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How do taxi BILKING laws differ in England and Scotland?

Updated: May 8, 2023



Bilking is the act of making off without payment for goods or services, such as petrol or a taxi fare. It is a form of theft and can result in criminal charges.


Here we will explore what can happen to a passenger found guilty of bilking in Scotland and how it differs from the laws in England.

According to the Theft Act 1978, bilking is an offence under section 3, which states that "a person who, knowing that payment on the spot for any goods supplied or service done is required or expected from him, dishonestly makes off without having paid as required or expected and with intent to avoid payment of the amount due shall be guilty of an offence". The punishment for this offence can vary depending on whether it is tried summarily or on indictment.


A person convicted on indictment can face up to two years of imprisonment, while a person convicted summarily can face up to six months of imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £1,000 or both.

However, the law in Scotland is different from the law in England. In Scotland, bilking is not a specific offence, but rather a form of fraud. Fraud is defined as "a false representation which is made with the intention of obtaining material benefit or causing material detriment to another". The punishment for fraud can also vary depending on the circumstances and the amount involved. A person convicted of fraud can face up to five years of imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both.


Therefore, a passenger found guilty of bilking in Scotland can face harsher penalties than a passenger found guilty of bilking in England. This is because fraud is a more serious offence than theft and has a higher maximum sentence and fine. Moreover, fraud can cover a wider range of situations than bilking, such as using a stolen or fake credit card or cheque to pay for goods or services.


Bilking is a form of theft that can result in criminal charges in both Scotland and England. However, the laws and punishments are different in each country. In Scotland, bilking is considered fraud and can lead to up to five years of imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both. In England, bilking is an offence under the Theft Act 1978 and can lead to up to two years of imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £1,000 or both.

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