Report No. 29
Position at English Law Regarding Certain Offences
Bribery and corruption.-It is a misdemeanor at common law for an officer who has a duty to do something in which the public are interested, to receive a bribe either to act in a manner contrary to his duty or to show favour in the discharge of his functions1. The offence is punishable by fine and imprisonment, whether the bribe is accepted or not. The matter is now provided for in greater detail by several enactments2, including
(i) The Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act, 1889 (52 and 53 Vic., c. 63).
(ii) The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1906 (6 Edw. c. 37).
(iii) The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1916 (6 & 7 Geo. 5, c. 64).
(iv) Section 9, Customs and Excise Act, 1952 (15 & 16 Geo. 6, c. 44).
(v) Section 123(2) Local Government Act, 1933 (23 & 24 Geo. 5, c. 51).
(vi) Sections 171 and 99, Representation of the People Act, 1949 (12, 13 & 14 Geo. 6, c. 68).
1. Archbold (1962), para. 3483.
2. Archbold (1962), para 3483, 3484, 3996 and 3953.
Conspiracy.-A person may be convicted of "criminal conspiracy" even where the act conspired to be committed would not be an offence if committed by a single person. It is from this point of view that the offence of criminal conspiracy assumes some importance. The generally accepted definition of conspiracy is that given by Justice Wilkes on behalf of all the Judges, is one case1, namely, an agreement of two or more to do an unlawful act or to do a lawful act by unlawful means2. The case-law that has developed on this subject has brought out the wide scope of this offence. Of interest for the present purpose are the following conspiracies held to be criminal
(i) conspiracy to injure the public health, as by selling unwholesome food3;
(ii) conspiracy to combine to violate the provisions of a statute or statutory rule, etc., where the violation of such statute or statutory rule would be a misdemeanour at common law or criminally punishable in some specified manner4.
(iii) conspiracy to do acts contrary to the public morals. The latest case on the subject is that of Shaw5.
1. Mucahy v. R., Law Reports (1868), 3 HL 306 (317).
2. See discussion in Russell on Crimes, (1958), Vol. I, pp. 213 and 215.
3. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1703.
4. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1700, and Archbold (1962), para 4053.
5. Shaw v. Director of Public Prosecution, (1961), 2 WLR 897, (case relating to the Ladies Directory).
Conspiracy to cheat and defraud.-It is stated, that it is really criminal to conspire to commit frauds in trade or public cheats, whether the fraud or cheat, if done by an individual without conspiracy would give only a ground for civil remedies at law or in equity, or would be criminally punishable. Examples of this conspiracy are combination of bankers or officers of companies to deceive and defraud their shareholders by publishing false balance-sheets, or by concealing the insolvency of the bank, and agreements to take part in deceptive schemes in order to raise the price of stocks and shares above their true value, or to raise the price of commodities by fictitious sale1-2.
1. See cases cited in Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, pp. 1712, 1715.
2. See also Archbold, (1962), para 4058.
Conspiracy to prevent, obstruct, pervert or defeat justice.-This falls under three classes:
(i) conspiracy to make false accusations of crimes or unfounded civil claims;
(ii) conspiracy to threaten to make false accusations or claims; and
(iii) conspiracy to interfere with a fair trial of pending proceedings1.
Of particular interest is a recent ease2 where the alleged conspiracy by certain police officers to take rewards to hinder prosecutions by not bringing the offenders before the courts or by warning persons concerned of intended prosecutions was in issue.
1. Russell on Crimes, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1707.
1. R. v. Hammersley 1958, 42 Cri App Reports, 207 cited in Archbold (1962), para. 4062.
Conspiracy or combination affecting trade.-These have been the subject-matter of legislation particularly in relation to trade disputes. Subject to such legislation, a criminal conspiracy in restraint of trade which has been defined as an agreement between two or more persons to do or procure to be done any unlawful act in restraint of trade (e.g. violence, threats, fraud, or coercion1-2) is punishable.
How far combinations to monopolise or divert trade would fall within this definition is a moot question. Criminal prosecutions do not seem to have been undertaken in England in respect of such combinations as being conspiracies in restraint of trade3.
1. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1719, et seq.
2. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1678.
3. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1679.
Cheating.-This is an offence at common law in many cases1. It is unnecessary to enumerate the various categories. Akin to this offence is an offence of obtaining goods by false pretences governed by section 32 of the Larceny Act, 19162. (6 and 7 Geo. 5, c. 50).
1. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, pp. 1322 to 1344.
2. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1336; Archbold (1962), para 1982.
Embezzlement.-See section 17 of the Larceny Act, 19161(6 and 7 Geo. 5, c. 50). There are several other special Acts also.
1. Archbold, (1962), para. 1701.
False pretences.-See under cheating.
Food.-At common law it is a misdemeanour to sell food or drink with the knowledge that it is dangerous or unfit for human consumption1. The Law on the subject is now contained in Food and Drugs Act, 1955 (4 & 5 Eliz. 2, ch. 16), which consolidates the previous Acts of 1938, 1950 and 1954 and certain other enactments. Sections 1 to 12 of the Act are mainly of interest as dealing with offences committed in the preparation and sale of injurious food and adulterated drugs, falsity in libel and advertising in food and drugs and sale of goods unfit for human consumption. (The common law offence is classified either as a public nuisance or as a common law cheating).2
1. Archbold, (1962), para. 3735.
2. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, pp. 1606, 1589, 1322.
Forgery.-The main provisions relating to forgery are contained in section 3 of the Forgery Act, 19131. There are numerous enactments relating to forgery of documents. Of these a few may be noted, namely, section 302 of the Customs and Excise Act, 19522. (15 & 16 Geo. 6 c. 44). Section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1925 (15 & 16 Geo. 5, c. 86) relating to forgery of passport3, frauds relating to stamps are dealt with by section 13 of the Stamp Duties Amendment Act, 18914. (54 & 55 vic., c. 38). Forgery of several public documents is specifically dealt with the section 3(2) and 3(3) of the Forgery Act, 1913 (3 & 4 Geo. 5, c. 27).
1. Archbold, (1962), para. 2166.
2. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1465.
3. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, para. 1467.
4. Russell on Crime, (1958), Vol. 2, p. 1463.
Malicious Damage is dealt with in detail by the Malicious Damage Act, 1861.
Misconduct by public servants (other than bribery).-Neglect by public officers' duty imposed on them at common law or by statute is indictable, and the remedy of criminal information is of interest in this connection1. Misconduct by judicial officers in the nature of malfeasance or culpable non-feasance has figured in several cases2.
Abuses in respect of honours are specifically dealt with by the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, 19253 (15 & 16 Geo. 5, c. 72).
1. Archbold, (1962), paras. 311 and 3334.
2. Archbold, (1962), para. 3491.
3. Archbold, (1962), para. 4000.
Profiteering.-See Prices of Goods Act (1939) section 1, later Goods and Services (Price Control) Act, 1941 (4 & 5 Geo. 6, c. 31).
Public mischief.-The offence of conspiracy to commit a public mischief is an offence which has a very wide scope and its definition is not laid down by statute. Its exact scope is indefinite, but until the decision inNewland, it was understood that many acts such as dissemination of rumours calculated to cause widespread alarm, and building defective air-raid shelters and making to the police false statements concerning imaginary crimes, fall within the offence of public mischief1.
In the case of Newland2, it was held that these offences were part of the law of conspiracy. If the act is committed by an individual and not in conjunction with others, then it is indictable only if it is an offence in itself at common law or by statute.
1. Archbold, (1962), para. 3481.
2. R. v. Newland, (1953) 2 AER 1067 (CCA).
Sabotage.-See "Malicious Damage".
Share pushing.-See section 13 of the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Act, 1958 (6 & 7 Eliz. 2, ch. 45). Roughly stated, it punishes a person who, by publishing a misleading statement, promise or forecast or by any dishonest concealment of facts or by reckless statement, etc. induces another person to enter into an agreement for acquiring or subscribing for securities, etc.1.
1. See Report on Share Pushing, (1982) Cmd. 5539 and 1941, Annuals of American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 217, Crime in the U.S.
Smuggling.-See the Customs and Excise Act 1952, section (45) (1) and section 3041.
1. See Archbold, (1962), paras. 3341-3342.
Tax.-As various enactments relating to taxation contain penal provisions, it would not be possible to summarise them here. But apart from statute, the making of false statements relating to income-tax with intent to defraud the Revenue has been held to amount to a common law misdemeanour1-2-3. Section 5 of the Perjury Act, 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 6) which is quoted below, is also of interest:-
"5. False statutory declarations and other false statements without oath.-If any person knowingly and wilfully makes (otherwise than on oath) a statement false in a material particular, and the statement is made-
(a) in a statutory declaration; or
(b) in an abstract, account, balance sheet, book, certificate, declaration, entry, estimate, inventory, notice, report return, or other document which he is authorised or required to make, attest, or verify, by any public general Act of Parliament for the time being in force; or
[Compare sections 191 and 199 Indian Penal Code.]
(c) in any oral declaration or oral answer which he is required to make by, under, or in pursuance of any public general Act of Parliament for the time being in force;
he shall be guilty of misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof on indictment to imprisonment.... for any term not exceeding two years, or to a fine or to both such imprisonment and fine."
1. R. v. Huon, (1966), 1 AER 814: (1956) 2 QB 452 dson.
2. Archbold, (1962), para. 3547.
3. Halsbury, 3rd Edn., Vol. 20, p. 720, para. 1448.
A false statement on oath before an income-tax Appeal Tribunal consisting of two Commission amounts to perjury, as such a tribunal falls within section 1(2), Perjury Act, 19111.
The provisions of the Income-tax Act in U.K. do not affect any criminal proceedings for felony, etc., or for misdemeanour, under section 503 of the Income-tax Act, 1952 (15 & 16 Geo. 6 c. 10).
The following; criminal remedies are open against a person for frauds on the taxation law1:-
(i) Fraud at common law, under the decision in R. v. Hudson, (1956) 208 (252): AIR 814,
(ii) Offences under the Perjury Act, 1911 [section 1(1) for false statement on oath at the appellate hearing before the Special Commissioner and section 5(b) for false statement not on oath knowingly and wilfully made in a return etc. required by Act of Parliament3.]
(iii) Offence under the Forgery Act, 1913 (3 & 4, Geo. 5, c. 274);
(iv) Conspiracy to defraud5;
(v) Other suitable offence according to the circumstances.
In addition, there are penal provisions in the Income-tax Act, 1952, section 43(3) and section 505. As to profit tax, see section 28 of the Finance Act, 1943, and section 44 of the Finance Act, 19466.
Under section 468 of the Income-tax Act, 1952, a person who is knowingly a party to the doing of any act amounting to something which is unlawful under the provisions against avoidance of income-tax or profit tax liability by a body corporate taking certain steps as to residence in the United Kingdom is punishable with imprisonment up to two years or fine up to £ 10,000. Consent of the Attorney General is required for prosecution under this provision.
There is no general provision creating the offence of evading or avoidance of tax.
1. R. v. Hood-Bars, 1943 KB 455: (1943) 1 AER 665.
2. Cf. Halsbury, 3rd Edn., Vol. 20, p. 720, para. 1448.
3. See also Halsbury, 3rd Edn., Vol. 10, p. 623.
4. Halsbury, 3rd Edn., Vol. 10, p. 840.
5. See Halsbury, 3rd Edn., Vol. 10, pp. 834-835.
6. See Halsbury, 3rd Edn;, Vol. 20, pp. 665 and 722.