General Fraud Offences in Australia

25 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2009

See all articles by Alex Steel

Alex Steel

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

Date Written: August 22, 2007


In the last 20 years a number of Australian jurisdictions have introduced general fraud offenses which constitute a decisive break with traditional approaches to defining fraud. Instead of offenses 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 offenses now in existence in the Western Australian, Queensland, Commonwealth and Australian Capital Territory jurisdictions, and also comments on the Northern Territory offense which uses deception, but not dishonesty, as a basis for liability.

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

Keywords: general fraud offences

Suggested Citation

Steel, Alex, General Fraud Offences in Australia (August 22, 2007). UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2007-55, Available at SSRN: or

Alex Steel (Contact Author)

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

Kensington, New South Wales 2052

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