The Fraud Act is quite a small and manageable Act, for a change. It is one of the simpler laws. In a nutshell, and greatly simplified, if you knowingly make false statements for some gain then that is fraud and is criminal.
Thankfully, in practice, it has to be pretty clear that you have to be knowingly telling lies for it to matter. Having said that I am always wary of any laws after Paul Chambers was done for a "menacing communication" which was only menacing when the judge (seemingly) deliberately considered it out of context. The fact that the thousands of re-tweeters broke the same law and have not been convicted shows how much of a sham it is. But that is just what makes me nervous of a law that could put any of us in jail for an optimistic or badly worded comment.
That aside, I have to wonder when a supplier makes a clearly false statement, e.g. that "dig work started today at 12:10hrs and engineer is currently working". Clearly the person sending that to their customer (us) did not know it was false. They are passing on what they were told be colleagues. However, that surely cannot be a valid excuse? After all, the lie started somewhere within the company. Someone knowingly stated something untrue, presumably for some gain (even if just to get an extra tea break). The fact the messenger did not know has to be irrelevant else any business could conduct fraud by employing someone on the front line to just pass on messages.
Even so, it is a stretch to suggest it was fraud and far more likely to be incompetence. It would be quite gratifying if they have to say that they are incompetent to avoid claims that it was fraud :-)
But then I got thinking about something definitely more corporate and not some individual within a company. What if a company has a corporate wide policy to mislead its customers? For example, deliberately misrepresenting itself as being one of its own "suppliers" with the clear implication that they are a third party. The above lie about a dig starting was effectively blamed on "suppliers" when in fact it was the company in question itself.
Such a corporate policy of deliberate misrepresentation has to count as corporate fraud, surely? It is clearly a misrepresentation, and presumably for some gain. (If not for some gain then that means the directors are not acting in the best interests of the shareholders which is a separate matter under the Companies Act).
Even so, I am not sure reporting one's biggest supplier to the police is prudent.
At the end of the day, and the real reason for the rant, is that our customers are being messed about over and over again - and this crap just gets in the way and slows things down even more. I want our customers to have a good service, and much as I might like to I am not able to go dig the road up myself.
And, of course, this is very armchair law on my part...