Understanding fraud

Fraudulent activity can arise in commercial, financial, workplace and personal contexts. It can be resolved in both a civil and criminal court.

In a criminal context, fraud is a broad offence which can be manifest in any act ranging from a single dishonest transaction or representation, to withholding information or orchestrating a large-scale financial structure or scam. The criminal offences of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006 capture different facets of activity: an offence can be committed by false representation, failure to disclose information in the face of a legal duty to do so and abuse of position. In each instance, conduct must be dishonest and the person must have intended to make a gain or cause a loss to another (without the need for either of these intentions to have materialised). The gain or loss need not be financial in nature. Each of these offences are complete once the person has carried out the conduct, so the action need not have had any effect. Also coming under the umbrella of fraud are offences of conspiracy to defraud, false accounting and tax evasion.

Bright Line Law focuses on criminal fraud cases of all sizes. Where an allegation of fraud has been raised against a company or individual, we work closely with our client to understand the nature of the activity that is alleged and develop a strategy to address the allegation. We aim to grasp the key issues at the outset and provide detailed advice at the beginning. Without exception, this will include advice on areas where we think aspects of the case may be lacking or where the bounds of the criminal law can be tested. We look carefully at the test for dishonesty, which has evolved in the UK in recent years, and consider the unique circumstances that arise in each case as every one will turn on its own facts. Our detailed analysis at the outset informs our careful and robust approach in every case.

Our barristers are well versed in dealing with the full range of investigating and prosecuting authorities in the defence of fraud allegations. These include the City of London Police, Metropolitan Police, the Serious Fraud Office, Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Bright Line Law is also experienced in dealing with foreign authorities in relation to fraud matters, such as the US Department of Justice. This extends to advising in the context of interviews with investigators. Our strength also lies in our consideration of important issues that can arise on the back of a fraud allegation, such as money laundering reporting obligations and the question of whether or not to self-report or make any other disclosure to the authorities.

In several cases, Bright Line Law advises and acts for individuals and companies who are victims of fraud. Depending on the nature of the case, our role can extend to conducting a granular analysis of materials in order to advise whether a complaint of fraud can be properly made to representing complainants in their dealings with the authorities either from the beginning or after a decision not to investigate or prosecute has been made. In recent years, our success in representing fraud complainants has seen the commencement of fraud investigations after the authorities initially declined to pursue the matter as well as the recovery of defrauded amounts.

Bright Line Law also acts in civil cases of fraud. Not all situations which focus on dishonesty of some kind are resolved by way of criminal proceedings. Allegations of fraud can be raised in a civil court and a claim may relate to conduct that is deceitful or misleading arising in a broad range of commercial and personal circumstances. Our team have expertise in all aspects of civil fraud including fraudulent misrepresentation, deceit, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of director’s duties, and investment fraud. We act for plaintiffs and defendants with our involvement spanning advice, drafting of pleadings and representing clients in court and in negotiations.

Bright Line Law has experience in the range of corporate financial wrongdoing offences, including fraudulent trading and fraudulent preference. In a unique offering to clients, we combine well-established fraud and corporate crime practices to assist clients in insolvency, bankruptcy and corporate restructuring matters. Our barristers are attuned to the potential criminal liability in such matters, including money laundering risk exposure, as well as the intricacies of the issues themselves.

Working with Bright Line Law
Our team have extensive experience defending clients accused of fraud in many contexts, and we know how to effectively counter civil and criminal allegations. We are regularly instructed to advise and represent clients on fraud matters, often with complex factual circumstances and procedural hurdles. We have experience dealing with legal issues of fraud occurring in a wide range of contexts. The strategic thinking we employ to deal with matters of fraud extends to individual and professional clients and affords us an excellent reputation.

Parties facing allegations of fraud need to take prompt action to counter them, protecting their reputation and their legal position. This is where the specialist fraud team at Bright Line Law can help.

A recent example of Bright Line Law’s experience in fraud matters; our team were successfully instructed on a financial fraud within a high street bank. Jonathan Fisher QC and Anita Clifford advised and represented the client throughout the proceedings, resulting in his acquittal.

If you have questions about how the criminal law operate in the commercial context, or are in need of specialist advice or representation, please contact us by telephone on +44 (0)20 3709 9470.Email