Explanatory Notes

Fraud Act 2006

2006 CHAPTER 35

8 November 2006

Commentary on Sections

Section 3: Fraud by failing to disclose information

18.Section 3 makes it an offence to commit fraud by failing to disclose information to another person where there is a legal duty to disclose the information. A legal duty to disclose information may include duties under oral contracts as well as written contracts. The concept of “legal duty” is explained in the Law Commission’s Report on Fraud, which said at paragraphs 7.28 and 7.29:

“7.28 …Such a duty may derive from statute (such as the provisions governing company prospectuses), from the fact that the transaction in question is one of the utmost good faith (such as a contract of insurance), from the express or implied terms of a contract, from the custom of a particular trade or market, or from the existence of a fiduciary relationship between the parties (such as that of agent and principal).

7.29.For this purpose there is a legal duty to disclose information not only if the defendant’s failure to disclose it gives the victim a cause of action for damages, but also if the law gives the victim a right to set aside any change in his or her legal position to which he or she may consent as a result of the non-disclosure. For example, a person in a fiduciary position has a duty to disclose material information when entering into a contract with his or her beneficiary, in the sense that a failure to make such disclosure will entitle the beneficiary to rescind the contract and to reclaim any property transferred under it.”

19.For example, the failure of a solicitor to share vital information with a client within the context of their work relationship, in order to perpetrate a fraud upon that client, would be covered by this section. Similarly, an offence could be committed under this section if a person intentionally failed to disclose information relating to his heart condition when making an application for life insurance.