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)

Full Description

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

Many strategies have already been proposed to handle the usage Essay Mills along with other ‘contract cheating services that are students. These types of services generally offer bespoke custom-written essays or other assignments to students in exchange for a fee. There were calls for the usage legal ways to tackle the difficulty. Here we see whether the UK 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 conditions and terms, aided by the Act. We found that all the sites examined have disclaimers regarding the use of their products or services but there are a few obvious contradictions in the actions of this sites which undermine these disclaimers, for example all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the job and also at least eight have advertising which appears to contradict their terms and conditions. We identify possible areas in which the Act might be used to pursue a case that is legal overall conclude that such a method is unlikely to be effective. We call for a new offence to be created in UK law which specifically targets the undesirable behaviours of those companies in the UK, even though the principles might be applied elsewhere. We also highlight other UK legal approaches that may be more successful.


The usage of so-called ‘contract cheating’ services by students happens to be a source of controversy and debate within advanced schooling, particularly when you look at the decade that is last. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, towards the outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who complete work on their behalf in return for a fee or other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These services offer ‘custom assignments’ of almost any form, although custom written essays appear to be the most typical. Students are often in a position to specify the grade they need (although there is not any guarantee this will be delivered), request drafts, referencing styles and just about 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 the utilization of contract cheating services (Newton 2015). Perhaps the simplest arrangements are directly between students and essay that is‘custom companies’, many of whom are ‘listed’ companies with sophisticated promotional initiatives. However there are numerous ways in which students can use third parties to work that is complete them, with all the contract spread across continents; writers may behave as freelancers, involved in another country to your student and their institution. These freelance article writers may make usage of online auction services to advertise and organise their work and these might be in still another national country, and there may be another intermediary; a person who receives the order through the student and then posts the job on an auction site (Newton and Lang 2016; Sivasubramaniam et al. 2016). Thus you can find multiple actors in contract cheating, a number of of whom may be liable if their actions violate what the law states; students, their universities, the persons paying tuition fees, writers, those that employ writers, the web sites which host the writers, advertising companies, those who host the advertising, and so on. Here we focus primarily on UK-registered essay-writing companies.

Across education, a student who completes an evaluation to make credit towards an award is normally necessary to do so on the explicit basis that the submission is their own work that is independent. Ideally, both students and staff are given guidance by what constitutes misconduct that is academic the effects of such misconduct (Morris 2015), in a manner that promotes a positive, constructive approach to fostering ‘academic integrity’ (Thomas and Scott 2016). Then that student will normally face a range of penalties, administered by their university, for academic misconduct if a student submits work that is shown to comprise, in whole or in part, material that is not their own independent work. These usually include cancellation of marks for the relevant module or the relevant component of the module subject to any mitigating circumstances (Tennant and Duggan 2008) in the UK. Historically, these behaviours have not been dealt with through legal mechanisms in britain (QAA 2016) and also this relates to plagiarism outside academic circumstances which, in the words of Saunders,”. is not if it breaches an established legal right, such as copyright, or offends against the law of misrepresentation or other legal rules” (Saunders 2010) in itself illegal; it is only illegal.

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

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 that individual or company (an ‘assistor’) complicit this kind of misconduct? What is the potential liability for the assistor and certainly will action be used against them? Would be the assistors by their action inciting academic fraud? Unless the assistor is a student in the same institution an educational institution cannot normally take action resistant to the assistor under internal disciplinary procedures. In addition, as well as perhaps more to the point, can there be the possibility of fraudulent behaviour when you look at the relationship amongst the learning student and also the company?

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

Action pertaining to UK law that is criminal normally undertaken by and also at the price of the state through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but requires a criminal offence to own been committed (private prosecutions at private cost are possible but relatively rare). The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the principles that are basic be followed closely by Crown Prosecutors once they make case decisions. Crown Prosecutors should be satisfied there is evidence that is enough provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” and that it is the public interest to pursue a prosecution (UK Government 2013).

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

In August 2016 the united kingdom regulator of advanced schooling, the standard Assurance agency, considered all approaches to cope with contract cheating, a challenge which they stated “poses a critical risk towards the academic standards in addition to 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 would not reach a firm conclusion on its use, stating that “Case law seems to indicate a reluctance from the the main courts to be involved in cases involving plagiarism, deeming this to be a matter for academic judgement that falls outside the competence of this court (Hines v Birkbeck College 1985 3 All ER 15)” (QAA 2016).

Inside their conclusion, the QAA suggest that the UK 2006 Fraud Act is “untested in this context”. Here we explore the detail regarding the Fraud Act further, and compare it to the established business practises of UK-registered essay-writing companies, with a particular give attention to their conditions and terms.

Leave a Reply