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Theft by employer?


thomo121
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Hello folks,

I have a legal question that I'd like your opinion on (I have read and understood the disclaimer)

My boss has today decided to change me into a different company car, knowing full well that there is a full tank of my own personal fuel in there. He has promised to reimburse me for that cost, but then later changes his mind and uses the car I filled up myself for his own personal use. He has said he will not reimburse me. Has he committed a theft or any other offence?

Many thanks

James

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just a question, but was the fuel tank full when you first got it off your employer?? if so you were just returning it in the same maner as given.

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just a question, but was the fuel tank full when you first got it off your employer?? if so you were just returning it in the same maner as given.

No, it was empty when I got it (the day before)

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Moved to help me.

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Hello folks,

I have a legal question that I'd like your opinion on (I have read and understood the disclaimer)

My boss has today decided to change me into a different company car, knowing full well that there is a full tank of my own personal fuel in there. He has promised to reimburse me for that cost, but then later changes his mind and uses the car I filled up myself for his own personal use. He has said he will not reimburse me. Has he committed a theft or any other offence?

Many thanks

James

Read this advice with the disclaimer in mind...

Its a civil dispute, you're never going to prove that he intentionally got the fuel off you with the intention of not reimbursing you. Perhaps taking the matter up with him formally, or with his boss would however be the most expeditious solution to the problem...

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Sounds like it could be theft. At the very least it's worth reporting to someone that he was using tha car for personal use, if this isn't allowed by your company.

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A person shall be guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.

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Was the fuel tank in the replacement car full?

Negatron, the replacement vehicle tank was empty.

Read this advice with the disclaimer in mind...

Its a civil dispute, you're never going to prove that he intentionally got the fuel off you with the intention of not reimbursing you. Perhaps taking the matter up with him formally, or with his boss would however be the most expeditious solution to the problem...

Reimbursement is not a defence to theft, but regardless of that he told me that he was not going to reimburse me. He was also aware that it was fuel paid for by me out of my own pocket. I can't see any break in the chain for the offence of theft.

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Make a note of everything and keep the receipt if you still have it. Inform your employer that you will be submitting a claim as an expense with the usual channels in your office and if he flat out refuses to approve it, escalate it to his supervisor. Try to keep it as amicable as possible, after all this is your job and it's in your interests to make sure there's no friction between you and the management.

If this fails, then try contacting your local CAB for actual legal advice if you want to pursue the matter.

Edited by engelasia
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Negatron, the replacement vehicle tank was empty.

Reimbursement is not a defence to theft, but regardless of that he told me that he was not going to reimburse me. He was also aware that it was fuel paid for by me out of my own pocket. I can't see any break in the chain for the offence of theft.

I did not state that reimbursement was a defence, however the appropriation has to be dishonest. You consented to him having the car and fuel, therefore, no dishonesty in the appropriation, at the time. You are going to have a very hard time proving that he intentionally defrauded you of the fuel.

Please lets all take a breath and think, as I have stated, the criminal law is not the answer to every minor dispute, even where there is a right and a wrong. Theft simply does not work here in my professional opinion. Perhaps, at a stretch, ss.2/4 Fraud Act - fraud by false representation/fraud by abuse of position, but I would suggest that that would be a real stretch.

I am not saying that your boss may not be in the wrong, however, I am saying that I do not believe that he has exposed himself to any criminal liability.

Also, look at the terms of any contract you have about the company car, it may state that any fuel left in the car at the time of it going back becomes their property, or that they should reimburse you for it, if they haven't then there may be a cause of action in the law of contract, but again, no criminal liability.

As stated by me and others, deal with it within your company, if they don't help, get professional legal advice (many trade unions provide access to this FoC), or try CAB.

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I did not state that reimbursement was a defence, however the appropriation has to be dishonest. You consented to him having the car and fuel, therefore, no dishonesty in the appropriation, at the time. You are going to have a very hard time proving that he intentionally defrauded you of the fuel.

Please lets all take a breath and think, as I have stated, the criminal law is not the answer to every minor dispute, even where there is a right and a wrong. Theft simply does not work here in my professional opinion. Perhaps, at a stretch, ss.2/4 Fraud Act - fraud by false representation/fraud by abuse of position, but I would suggest that that would be a real stretch.

I am not saying that your boss may not be in the wrong, however, I am saying that I do not believe that he has exposed himself to any criminal liability.

Also, look at the terms of any contract you have about the company car, it may state that any fuel left in the car at the time of it going back becomes their property, or that they should reimburse you for it, if they haven't then there may be a cause of action in the law of contract, but again, no criminal liability.

As stated by me and others, deal with it within your company, if they don't help, get professional legal advice (many trade unions provide access to this FoC), or try CAB.

It appears to me that the appropriation was very clearly dishonest, as he used fuel that he knew belonged to me. I have no power to consent or not consent to him using the car, as he has power to decide how a company vehicle is used and by whom. To go into a bit more depth, he used the filled car instead of his own company car because his was empty, so I had no idea that he was going to use it anyway. I'm not saying that I will be looking to have him prosecuted for theft, but I need something to rely on if HR decide they want to back him up. There is definitely nothing in any contract to say that fuel in cars belongs to the company. I genuinely don't understand why his actions wouldn't tick every box required for a complete theft. Dishonesty - Yes. He knew the fuel was not his and used it anyway. Appropriation - Yes. He used the fuel. Property belonging to another - Yes. The contents of the fuel tank belong to me, and he was aware of this. Intent to permanently deprive - Yes. He knew the fuel would be burned by driving the vehicle, and that creates a permanent deprivation regardless of any subsequent reimbursement. I don't see the break in the chain.

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It appears to me that the appropriation was very clearly dishonest, as he used fuel that he knew belonged to me. I have no power to consent or not consent to him using the car, as he has power to decide how a company vehicle is used and by whom. To go into a bit more depth, he used the filled car instead of his own company car because his was empty, so I had no idea that he was going to use it anyway. I'm not saying that I will be looking to have him prosecuted for theft, but I need something to rely on if HR decide they want to back him up. There is definitely nothing in any contract to say that fuel in cars belongs to the company. I genuinely don't understand why his actions wouldn't tick every box required for a complete theft. Dishonesty - Yes. He knew the fuel was not his and used it anyway. Appropriation - Yes. He used the fuel. Property belonging to another - Yes. The contents of the fuel tank belong to me, and he was aware of this. Intent to permanently deprive - Yes. He knew the fuel would be burned by driving the vehicle, and that creates a permanent deprivation regardless of any subsequent reimbursement. I don't see the break in the chain.

I'm clearly not going to win here, but I shall give it one last shot... Your boss is in the wrong! That does not however mean that he has committed any crime, because as you have said, he originally told you that he would pay you back, which in my professional opinion eliminates theft as a possible offence - as I have stated there are offences under the fraud act which may more closely fit the circs given, however again, you will have to prove dishonesty. The test for this is found in the case of R v Ghosh [1982] EWCA Crim 2 - I believe that you would have a hard time proving the required level of dishonesty for theft. As he has originally stated that he will pay you back, and then has not, your situation is closer to that of a bad debt, which is not a criminal matter, but a civil one, and you may have recourse by an action in breach of contract, or to recover the debt, which would, in theory allow you to recover your debt.

From a purely practical point of view, you will make no friends by going around accusing your boss of stealing from you, quoting criminal law at your HR department is unlikely to raise your stock with the company in any way, when you would be far far better explaining the situation calmly and fully, as you are clearly the wronged party here. Your suppositions as to why he has used the car are merely that, suppositions, and have no weight unless you've got hard evidence that your boss has said "Im going to use this car in order to defraud X of the fuel but tell him I'll pay him back"

In my opinion, your best course of action is, as stated, to invoice the company for the fuel, if they are unwilling to pay you back, then start escalating it to HR. So to recap, I am not defending the actions of your boss, however I certainly do not believe that they meet the required elements for theft, and that any fraud act offences are somewhat questionable in this case.

In summary, from your circs given, your boss is in the wrong, however, I suspect that he is not guilty of a crime, but you may still have recourse via the civil law, should you so choose.

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Civil.

Bear in mind that your employer would be within their rights to charge you for 'personal' use of a company vehicle and also inform the Revenue, you may end up out of pocket.

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