“Dishonesty” definition change in law for first time in 35 years

In October 2017, the case of Ivey vs Genting Casinos changed the legal definition of “dishonesty”. Until then, for a defendant to be seen by the courts as dishonest, they had to meet a two-part criteria, known as the Ghosh test:

  • It must be decided that, whether according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people, that what was done was dishonest
  • The decision maker must consider whether the defendant himself must have realised that what he was doing was, by those standards, dishonest

The test proved to be both objective and subjective, even before the “dishonesty” could be proven without reasonable doubt.

Ivey vs Genting Casinos

This case involved Mr Ivey carrying out a sophisticated ploy to win big money in the casino, by persuading the casino employee to deal the cards in a certain way, which enabled Mr Ivey to see a certain part of each card. This greatly increased his chances of winning, as he now had a clear-cut method of accurately estimating which number was on each card.

By the end of the night, Mr Ivey had won £7.7million, but the casino refused to pay him his winnings, and accused My Ivey of cheating. Mr Ivey proceeded to take Genting Casinos to court, and argued that he was not, in the eyes of the law, dishonest in accordance with the second limb of the Ghosh test.

However, the courts ruled that the Ghosh test did not represent the true position in the law, and that Mr Ivey’s actions did in fact amount to cheating. Their reasoning was that, when it comes to the Ghosh test, the second point was based purely on the defendant’s own moral compass, and the more warped the defendant’s standards of honesty was, the more likely that they would be acquitted.

The changes

The test for dishonesty is now a one stage test, with the Supreme Court stating the following:

“The fact-finding tribunal must ascertain (subjectively) the actual state of the individual’s knowledge or belief as to the facts and then determine whether his conduct was honest or dishonest by the (objective) standards of ordinary decent people. There is no requirement that the defendant must appreciate that what he has done is, by those standards, dishonest.”

If you’ve been accused of dishonesty, it’s important to seek legal advice from a professional. Our team of solicitors are experts in this field, and are on hand to fight your corner. Contact our friendly team for a free, confidential discussion about your next steps.