The Fraud Act 2006 deals with criminal liability for fraud and obtaining services dishonestly. The Act aims to clarify the law, providing law enforcers and prosecutors with a modern and flexible law of fraud.
It establishes a new general offence of fraud, which can be committed in three ways: (1) fraud by false representation; (2) fraud by failing to disclose information; and (3) fraud by abuse of position. It repeals the deception offences in the Theft Act 1968.
The Fraud Act 2006 came into force on the 15 January 2007. It is based on the recommendations of the Law Commission report "Fraud" (Note:Law Com No 276 Cm 5560 2002) published in 2002. The Act applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Offences under the Fraud Act 2006
The Fraud Act 2006 repeals all the deception offences in the Theft Act 1968 and Theft Act 1978 and replaces them with a single offence of fraud (Section 1) which can be committed in three different ways by:
- false representation (Section 2);
- failure to disclose information when there is a legal duty to do so (Section 3);
- abuse of position (Section 4).
The Fraud Act 2006 also creates new offences of possession (Section 6) and making or supplying articles for use in frauds (Section7).
The offence of fraudulent trading (Section 458 of the Companies Act 1985) will apply to sole traders (Section 9).
Obtaining services by deception is replaced by a new offence of obtaining services dishonestly (Section 11).
There are also other minor provisions. A person who is in possession of, or makes or supplies an article for use in fraud is also guilty an offence. These offences aim to cover phishing attacks and those supplying software for committing fraud.
Power of enforcement
There are no powers of enforcement in the Fraud Act 2006 but local authorities can prosecute under this act as it is a common informers piece of legislation. Private individuals or an organisation may take forward prosecutions if they think they have enough evidence, as 'common informers'. A person is guilty of fraud by false representation, failing to disclose information; and abuse of position.