Conspiracy to defraud
Conspiracy to defraud

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Conspiracy to defraud
  • Offence of conspiracy to defraud
  • Elements of the offence of conspiracy to defraud
  • An agreement between two or more persons
  • Dishonesty and an intention to defraud a proposed victim
  • Charging common law conspiracy to defraud vs statutory conspiracy
  • Jurisdictional reach of conspiracy to defraud
  • Drafting the particulars of the offence of conspiracy to defraud
  • The impossibility defence
  • Procedural considerations
  • more

Offence of conspiracy to defraud

Conspiracy to defraud is a common law offence which was expressly preserved by section 5(2) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 (CLA 1977), and is triable only on indictment.

Offences of statutory conspiracy and common law conspiracy to defraud are mutually exclusive. However, a conspiracy to defraud at common law can only be charged when either it is clear that the facts constituting the conspiracy would not involve the commission of any substantive offence or it is uncertain whether or not it would do so. See further below: Charging common law conspiracy to defraud vs statutory conspiracy and Practice Note: Conspiracy.

The offence can be divided into two main types:

  1. an agreement by two or more persons to dishonestly deprive a person of something which is theirs or which they are or would be entitled to, or

  2. a dishonest agreement to deceive another person into acting contrary to their duty. The person deceived does not have to be a public official it sufficient if any person is deceived into acting contrary to the duty they owe to their clients or employers

For a common law conspiracy to defraud offence to be made out, nothing need to happen more than the agreement to carry it into effect.

Elements of the offence of conspiracy to defraud

The offence