Are Essay Mills fraud that is committing? An analysis of the behaviours vs the 2006 Fraud Act (UK)

Are Essay Mills fraud that is committing? An analysis of the behaviours vs the 2006 Fraud Act (UK)

International Journal for Educational Integrity volume 13, Article number: 3 ( 2017 ) | Download Citation

Many strategies have been proposed to address the utilization of Essay Mills and other ‘contract cheating services that are students. These services generally offer bespoke custom-written essays or other assignments to students in exchange for a fee. There were calls for the usage legal approaches to tackle the problem. Here we determine whether great britain Fraud Act (2006) may be used to tackle a number of the activities of companies providing these types of services in the UK, by comparing their practises that are common and their Terms and Conditions, utilizing the Act. We unearthed that all the sites examined have disclaimers regarding the usage of their products or services but there are several obvious contradictions in the actions associated with sites which undermine these disclaimers, for instance all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the work and also at least eight have advertising which appears to contradict their conditions and terms. We identify possible areas where the Act could possibly be used to follow a case that is legal overall conclude that such an approach is unlikely to work. We call for a offence that is new be created in UK law which specifically targets the undesirable behaviours of the companies when you look at the UK, even though principles could be applied elsewhere. We also highlight other UK approaches that are legal may be more successful.


The use of so-called ‘contract cheating’ services by students happens to be a source of controversy and debate within advanced schooling, particularly within the last decade. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, into the outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who complete focus on their behalf in substitution for a fee or some other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These types of services offer ‘custom assignments’ of nearly every form, although custom written essays look like the most frequent. Students in many cases are in a position to specify the grade they desire (though there is no guarantee this is delivered), request drafts, referencing styles and virtually any other custom feature (Newton and Lang 2016). Services available are quick and cheap (Wallace and Newton 2014) and students underestimate the severe nature with which universities penalise making use of contract cheating services (Newton 2015). Probably the simplest arrangements are directly between students and ‘custom essay writing companies’, nearly all whom are ‘listed’ companies with sophisticated promotional initiatives. However there are numerous ways that students can use third parties to work that is complete them, aided by the contract spread across continents; writers may behave as freelancers, employed in a different country to the student and their institution. These freelance writers could make utilization of online auction services to market and organise their work and these might be in just one more national country, and there could be another intermediary; someone who receives the order from the student and then posts the work on an auction site (Newton and Lang 2016; Sivasubramaniam et al. 2016). Thus there are multiple actors in contract cheating, a number of of whom might be liable if their actions violate what the law states; students, their universities, the persons tuition that is paying, writers, those who employ writers, the internet sites which host the writers, advertising companies, those who host the advertising, and so forth. Here we focus primarily on UK-registered essay-writing companies.

Across education, a student who completes an assessment to earn credit towards an award is generally necessary to do so in the explicit basis that the submission is their own work that is independent. Ideally, both students and staff are given guidance in what constitutes academic misconduct and the effects of such misconduct (Morris 2015), in a manner that promotes a positive, constructive approach to fostering ‘academic integrity’ (Thomas and Scott 2016). If a student submits work that is demonstrated to comprise, in whole or in part, material that’s not their particular independent work then that student will normally face a variety of penalties, administered by their university, for academic misconduct. In the united kingdom these usually include cancellation of marks for the relevant module or perhaps the paper writing service relevant element of the module at the mercy of any mitigating circumstances (Tennant and Duggan 2008). Historically, these behaviours have not been dealt with through legal mechanisms in the united kingdom (QAA 2016) and also this pertains to plagiarism outside academic circumstances which, into the words of Saunders,”. is certainly not by itself illegal; it really is only illegal if it breaches an established legal right, such as for instance copyright, or offends up against the law of misrepresentation or any other legal rules” (Saunders 2010).

However, a commonly used test to make legal decisions is to figure out how a ‘reasonable person’ might view a behaviour that is particular. If asked to describe the purchasing of essays for submission when it comes to purposes of gaining academic credit it seems logical to conclude that a fair person would conclude that such behaviour is ‘fraudulent’, particularly because of the language associated with it (e.g. ‘cheating’). If another individual has knowingly assisted in that activity then they might reasonably be believed to have assisted, conspired or colluded in such academic fraud, cheating or dishonesty.

Then it is clear that the student commits academic misconduct, but what of the individual or company that supplied the work in return for payment if a student has purchased written work from another individual or a company for the purpose of passing it off as his or her own work? As to what extent is the fact that individual or company (an ‘assistor’) complicit this kind of misconduct? What’s the liability that is potential of assistor and that can action be used against them? Are the assistors by their action inciting academic fraud? An educational institution cannot normally take action against the assistor under internal disciplinary procedures unless the assistor is a student in the same institution. In addition, and maybe more to the point, will there be the alternative of fraudulent behaviour within the relationship between the student and the company?

Broadly, legal wrongs committed in England and Wales might be addressed through the civil or law that is criminalUK Government 2016a). An action in civil law is taken by a individual that is wronged their initial cost. This cost is normally prohibitive as well as normally requires the formulation of a claim recognised by the law that evidences loss or injury to the claimant that is individual by the defendant as well as for which a remedy is sought. Thus the capability of educational institutions (or a student for instance) to take action that is civil assistors is restricted.

Action in relation to UK law that is criminal normally undertaken by and at the expense of their state through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but requires a criminal offence to have been committed (private prosecutions at private cost are possible but relatively rare). The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out of the basic principles to be accompanied by Crown Prosecutors when they make case decisions. Crown Prosecutors must certanly be satisfied there is evidence that is enough provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” and therefore it will be the public interest to follow a prosecution (UK Government 2013).

An objective of this paper is always to measure the extent that a business organisation who supplies an essay or written work upon instructions from a student in return for money might be liable under the law that is criminal of and Wales for an offence underneath the Fraud Act 2006 (The Act) (UK Government 2006). The Act commenced operation on 15 2007 by the Fraud Act 2006 (Commencement) Order 2006 SI 2006/3200 january. The Act pertains to offences committed wholly on or after 15 January 2007 and also includes England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In August 2016 great britain regulator of advanced schooling, the standard Assurance agency, considered all methods to deal with contract cheating, a challenge which they stated “poses a serious risk towards the academic standards plus the integrity of UK higher education” (QAA 2016). Their consideration of possible legal approaches under existing law concluded that the Fraud Act was the “nearest applicable legislation”, but they failed to reach a firm conclusion on its use, stating that “Case law appears to indicate a reluctance on the area of the courts to be engaged in cases involving plagiarism, deeming this to be a matter for academic judgement that falls outside of the competence of the court (Hines v Birkbeck College 1985 3 All ER 15)” (QAA 2016).

The QAA state that the UK 2006 Fraud Act is “untested in this context” in their conclusion. Here we explore the detail associated with Fraud Act further, and compare it towards the established business practises of UK-registered essay-writing companies, with a focus that is particular their conditions and terms.