One of the world's top poker players, Phil Ivey, has lost a Supreme Court bid to reclaim £7.7m of winnings withheld by a London casino for five years.
The American was challenging a Court of Appeal judgement that Crockfords Club could refuse to pay up when Ivey won the cash playing card game punto banco. The club said Mr Ivey had broken its rules by using an "edge-sorting” technique to spot advantageous cards. Mr Ivey had consistently argued that he had merely used a legitimate advantage. Ivey did not personally touch any cards, but persuaded the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards by intimating that he was superstitious. Mr Ivey contended that the technique was not a form of cheating because it did not involve dishonesty.
The hearing at the Supreme Court considered whether dishonesty was a necessary element of the offence of cheating and in its judgement overturned the established principles of dishonesty finding that a prosecutor no longer has to prove that the accused had belief or knowledge of how their actions would be regarded. Whilst this change may sound technical, it will both simplify the trial of many regularly prosecuted offences and help move towards a more objective test in trials for many acquisitive offences, such as theft and fraud. This may make defending these cases more difficult. A defendant who might previously have escaped conviction on the basis of their own personal belief about what reasonable people thought might now find this defence closed. While Ivey undoubtedly simplifies the law on dishonesty, the jury is still out on it’s long term effects but it looks likely to see an increase in convictions.
If you require guidance or if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to answer charges relating to dishonesty or other white collar crime we can help. For further advice and information please contact Michael May.