General Fraud Offences

ALTA Refereed Conference Papers, 2006

25 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2007

See all articles by Alex Steel

Alex Steel

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law


In the last 20 years a number of Australian jurisdictions have introduced general fraud offences which constitute a decisive break with traditional approaches to defining fraud. Instead of offences based on obtaining of property by deception, or obtaining of pecuniary/financial advantage by deception, they are based around concepts of general dishonesty and gain or loss of any type - pecuniary or otherwise. This paper provides an overview of such offences now in existence in the Western Australian, Queensland, Commonwealth and Australian Capital Territory jurisdictions, and also comments on the Northern Territory offence which uses deception, but not dishonesty, as a basis for liability.

The paper argues that all these offences are impermissibly broad and vague and rely on allegations of mental states of mind to criminalise actions otherwise lawful.

Keywords: fraud, dishonesty, general dishonesty offences

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Steel, Alex, General Fraud Offences. ALTA Refereed Conference Papers, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Alex Steel (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052

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