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The meaning of "dishonesty" in criminal law

The UK Supreme Court today overturned 35 years of legal precedent about what "dishonesty" means

In a case concerning gambling winnings, the UK Supreme Court has today overturned 35 years of legal precedent about the test for "dishonesty" in criminal cases in England and Wales.

The previous test was not intuitive nor particularly easy to understand and apply.  The new test is more straightforward and simpler.

I have blogged about it HERE.  Will it make life simpler for accountants considering whether they need to file a Suspicious Activity Report?



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25th Oct 2017 22:29

I was always taught that ignorance of the law was no defence. Apparently it is now.

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to andy.partridge
26th Oct 2017 09:23

Consider the position of 'John' who sets up in business. The business goes well and builds up stocks & debtors but John takes only a small weekly wage from it.
John completes his own tax return. He enters on his return his wage as income from employment. He does not complete the self employment pages or prepare accounts.
Is John dishonest? I don't think so - which means I don't think John has committed a criminal offence in respect of income tax (even if his taxable profits greatly exceed the 'wage' he has declared).
Do you agree?
P.S. Of course John is liable to civil penalties in respect of the tax under-declared.

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to davidwinch
26th Oct 2017 10:46

I take your point, but John's disregard for the conventions of being in business and the his obligations does not sit comfortably with me.
Should John be aware of the VAT threshold and if he isn't does it not matter when he blithely goes over it and doesn't register?

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to andy.partridge
26th Oct 2017 09:38

That's hardly what the test is. The law is the law and doesn't vary depending on your knowledge or lack of it.

Enshrined as part of the law are circumstances where a crime can only be committed if you deliberately commit it, for example the difference between murder and manslaughter. Ignorance of the law doesn't protect you from either crime but your state of mind determines which you commit, same with this dishonesty test except the alternative isn't a lesser crime, it's an acquittal.

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26th Oct 2017 09:40

On a brief perusal of the summary of the case as it appeared in the news, I can't imagine Ivey could be regarded as anything other than dishonest under either test.

There is no way he could think that what he was doing was not well outwith the spirit of the game, if not explicitly forbidden in the rules.

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By Maslins
26th Oct 2017 09:43

I'd agree with that (davidwinch comment...a couple of other posts in between).
Being honest doesn't mean being correct. Sure there's a witty example to demonstrate the point I could insert here, but can't think of one.

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26th Oct 2017 09:42

A simple explanation of this law change is here:

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