Describing Dishonest Means: The Implications of Seeing ‘Dishonesty’ as a Course of Conduct or Mental Element and the Parallels with Indecency

Adelaide Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 7-45, 2010

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2010-44

39 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2010

See all articles by Alex Steel

Alex Steel

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 22, 2010

Abstract

Fundamental differences exist internationally and within over the definition of ‘dishonestly’ and the associated term ‘fraudulently’. In Australia and Canada a further concept of ‘dishonest means’ exists. This article critically examines the Australian High Court’s analysis of ‘dishonest means’ in Peters v The Queen by comparing it with the approach taken by the Canadian Supreme Court in R v. Theroux and R v. Zlatic. The definition of ‘dishonest means’ in Peters is also compared with the exposition of actus reus and mens rea set out in He Kaw Teh v. The Queen, and with similar issues faced by courts in defining acts of indecency. It is argued that in choosing to see ‘dishonest means’ as an element of actus reus, the High Court was mistaken in including the state of mind of the accused as a factor in the characterisation of acts as dishonest. Instead, those mental elements are best placed in the mens rea of an offence. This is because ‘dishonesty’ should be defined as based on either a moral standard or a failure to live up to community expectations. The analysis in Peters conflates these approaches. The complexity generated by Peters suggests that dishonesty is best seen as a purely mental element.

Keywords: Dishonesty, Dishonest Means, Fraudulent Means, Indecency, Mens Rea, Canada, Australia, Zlatic, Theroux, Peters

Suggested Citation

Steel, Alex, Describing Dishonest Means: The Implications of Seeing ‘Dishonesty’ as a Course of Conduct or Mental Element and the Parallels with Indecency (October 22, 2010). Adelaide Law Review, Vol. 31, pp. 7-45, 2010, UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2010-44, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1695785

Alex Steel (Contact Author)

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

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
42
Abstract Views
685
PlumX Metrics