Research Handbooks in Financial Law series
Edited by Barry Rider
Chapter 26: Fraud in civil and criminal law
This chapter presents an overview of the legal response to fraudulent behaviour, covering both civil law and criminal law aspects. Civil law is engaged on occasions where victims of fraud seek to recover the losses which they have sustained as a result of a fraudster’s activities. Invariably, monies will have passed through the fraudster’s hands and he will have no assets against which the victim can recover. Proverbially, he is known as a “man of straw”. In this situation, victims will look towards other potential defendants such as bankers, solicitors and accountants who have assisted the fraudster in his nefarious endeavours, as a potential source for the recovery of their funds. Criminal law, however, is engaged for an entirely different reason. Primarily, the objective of the criminal law is to punish a wrongdoer for the harm he has caused to society, and in serious fraud cases the punishment will usually consist of a lengthy term of imprisonment. Invariably, a fraudster commits a number of different criminal offences when perpetrating a fraud, ranging from an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 to offences involving false accounting and making misrepresentations to the financial markets. The criminal law does facilitate victim compensation, and there are provisions to this effect, but if asset recovery is the focus of the victim’s response the civil law is a better forum for his endeavours. Unfortunately, fraud has become an endemic part of modern life.
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