Welham v Director of Public Prosecutions: HL 1961

The House considered what was required to establish an ‘intent to defraud’.
Held: Lord Radcliffe said: ‘Now, I think that there are one or two things that can be said with confidence about the meaning of this word ‘ defraud ‘. It requires a person as its object: that is, defrauding involves doing something to someone. Although in the nature of things it is almost invariably associated with the obtaining of an advantage for the person who commits the fraud, it is the effect upon the person who is the object of the fraud that ultimately determines its meaning . . Secondly popular speech does not give, and I do not think ever has given, any sure guide as to the limits of what is meant by ‘to defraud’. It may mean to cheat someone. It may mean to practise a fraud upon someone. It may mean to deprive someone by deceit of something which is regarded as belonging to him or, though not belonging to him, as due to him or his right.’
Lord Denning distinguished between ‘intent to deceive’ and ‘intent to defraud’ by saying that the former conveyed the element of deceit which induced a state of mind ‘without the element of fraud which induces a course of action or inaction’. As to ‘a charge of fraud against that party was in issue’ under the 1933 Act: ”Fraud’ in ordinary speech means the using of false representations to obtain an unjust advantage . . Likewise in law ‘fraud’ is proved when it is shown that a false representation has been made knowingly or without belief in its truth, or recklessly, careless whether it be true or false, see Derry v Peek per Lord Herschell.’
Lord Radcliffe, Lord Denning
[1961] AC 103, [1960] 1 All ER 805, (1960) 44 Cr App R 124, [1960] 2 WLR 669
Forgery Act 1913 4, Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1933 6(3)(1)(a)
England and Wales

  • Questioned – In re London and Globe Finance Corporation Ltd ChD 1903
    A company which had gone from voluntary winding up, first to winding up under supervision and then to compulsory winding up, with the official receiver as liquidator. The company’s former managing director was suspected of fraud, but the law . .
    [1903] 1 Ch 728

Cited by:

  • Cited – Scott v Metropolitan Police Commissioner; Regina v Scott HL 20-Nov-1974
    The defendant had been accused of conspiracy to produce pirate copies of films obtained by purchasing copies from cinema owners without the knowledge or consent of the copyright owners.
    Held: To establish a conspiracy to defraud, it was not . .
    [1975] AC 819, [1974] UKHL 4
  • Cited – Cavell USA, Inc and Randall v Seaton Insurance Company etc CA 16-Dec-2009
    The parties had settled terms for concluding business arrangements between them. The agreement released and referred all claims in law and in equity ‘save for fraud’ to the UK courts. The respondents now wanted to bring a case alleging breach of a . .
    [2009] EWCA Civ 1363, Times 12-Jan-10, [2010] Lloyd’s Rep FC 197, [2009] 2 CLC 991
  • Cited – Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd (T/A Crockfords) SC 25-Oct-2017
    The claimant gambler sought payment of his winnings. The casino said that he had operated a system called edge-sorting to achieve the winnings, and that this was a form of cheating so as to excuse their payment. The system exploited tiny variances . .
    [2017] UKSC 67, UKSC 2016/0213, [2018] AC 391, [2018] 1 Cr App R 12, [2017] WLR(D) 708, [2017] LLR 783, [2018] 2 All ER 406, [2017] Lloyd’s Rep FC 561, [2017] 3 WLR 1212, [2018] Crim LR 395

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 07 December 2020; Ref: scu.324673