Conspiracy to defraud

The following Corporate Crime practice 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
  • Intention to defraud
  • Dishonesty
  • Charging common law conspiracy to defraud vs statutory conspiracy
  • Factors indicating the suitability of a charge of conspiracy to defraud
  • Conduct which can only be prosecuted as conspiracy to defraud
  • More...

Conspiracy to defraud

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.

The offence requires that two or more individuals dishonestly conspire to commit a fraud against a victim. It is a very wide offence and catches conduct that might not constitute an offence but which, by reason of two or more people agreeing to do it with the requisite intent, it becomes an offence.

Common law conspiracy is therefore wider than statutory conspiracy because it does not require the agreement to be in respect of the commission of a substantive criminal offence.

The statutory offence of conspiracy is found in CLA 1977, s 1. The statutory offence requires a conspiracy that will necessarily amount to or involve the commission of an offence by one or more of the parties to the agreement, or would do so, but for the existence of facts that render the commission of the offence or any of the offences impossible. The difference is therefore the object of the agreement. For further guidance on conspiracy generally, see Practice Note: Conspiracy.

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

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