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Ever since Harrow Council dropped their s2 Fraud Act proceedings against Mrinal Patel , the Government has been looking for ways to prosecute parents who lie about their child’s address to get them into the school of their choice.

Harrow’s case collapsed, I suspect, after someone had a look at Archbold and realised that the mens rea element of s2 turned on whether the “intent to gain” a school place for their child met the s5(2) Fraud Act test where “gain” and “loss” extend only to gain or loss in money or other property”.

A school place is definitely not money, so the next step is to consider whether it is “property”.

Archbold commentary states, “property includes things in action”.

A thing or chose in action “could arise from money transfers, or where a person is tricked into incurring a liability, such as under a contract or a guarantee”.

As a school place is not “property” of any description, the case against Ms Patel collapsed.

Arguably, Ms Patel’s case can be distinguished from Hypothetical (Balloon Boy) Dad’s, as Hypothetical Dad did, hypothetically of course, intend to gain under a (show) contract.

Remember, unlike the old deception offences under the Theft Acts where the, “deceptee” had to be deceived by the words or conduct of the defendant, s2 of the Fraud Act is complete once the defendant makes a false representation knowing that it is, or may be, false.

Do you think a new, “faking your child’s address to get a school place” should be criminalised?