Fraud laws to be ‘dramatically simplified’

It said the current law was too complex with too many specific offences that are not understood by juries.

In the wake of current accountancy scandals the Commission said: ‘Introducing a single crime of fraud would dramatically simplify the law of fraud. Clear simple law is fairer than complicated, inaccessible law.’

It said that the current legal position resulted in too many unsuccessful prosecutions – either which should not have been launched or should have resulted in conviction.

The Law Commission said: ‘The statutory offences are too specific to offer a general description of fraud; while the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud is so wide that it offers little guidance on the difference between fraudulent and lawful conduct.

‘A general offence of fraud would be a useful tool in effective prosecutions.’

It added that this would be ‘better able to keep pace with developing technology’.

Yesterday, a report by KPMG found that fraud in the UK had increased by more than 150% in the six months from January to 30 June, compared with the same period last year.

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