Cyber Crime

The online environment is fast paced and ever changing, with new technologies broadening horizons and increasing the ability to access and share information. Computers and computer software provide fertile ground for innovation but can also be used for more nefarious activities. The law has been developed to reflect this fact, and resulted in some of the most challenging and sophisticated legislation to be produced.

At Bright Line Law, we provide advice and representation to clients facing allegations for having committed cybercrime. Our lead counsel, Jonathan Fisher QC, has a reputation for providing clients with bespoke, pragmatic legal advice on how to defend against allegations of cybercrime. If you need to speak with a lawyer that understands the complexities of cyber law, and how to deal with claims for having violated the rules in this area, contact Bright Line Law today.

Defining cybercrime as an offence in the UK

In the UK ‘cybercrime’ relates to any kind of crime that is committed through the use of a computer. In reality there are different kinds of activity that, while capable of prosecution on their own, will be deemed cybercrime if they are conducted through the use of technology e.g. espionage, hacking and even identity theft.

The laws surrounding cybercrime or ‘e-crime’ are set out in the Misuse of Computers Act 1990 (“the 1990 Act”). The 1990 Act introduced a variety of different offences:

Unauthorised access to computer material

This offence will have been committed if someone accesses another’s computer without permission. It is remarkably simple to commit this offence, regardless as to whether there was a genuine intention to access the computer or not. Further, there is no requirement to show any evidence of damage having been done to the computer. Provided that the prosecution has evidence that a computer has been accessed, the offence has been committed. 

Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate a crime

Under the 1990 Act this offence will come into play where a computer is accessed with a view to committing, or facilitating, another kind of offence. Specifically, this feature of the 1990 Act will attach to suspected instances of hacking into bank accounts or other sources of personal data, or even to have sight of restricted commercial information e.g. business contracts. Unauthorised modification of computer material[N1] 

Deleting information with the express purpose of causing damage to someone

Where a computer is used to erase information so to negatively impact another person, this will constitute a criminal offence. This covers a variety of different situations, including the release of a virus or spyware programs onto a computer with a view to deleting information that is needed by the user. The damaging of business systems or the corruption of business data is also capable of attracting liability under the 1990 Act.

Making, supplying or obtaining information which can be used in computer misuse offences

This is the most widely drawn offence under the 1990 Act and will activate where there is evidence of a process, where a computer is being used to assist (albeit not actively partake) in the commission of cybercrime. This offence has been largely designed to prevent individuals from achieving their purposes of actively committing a crime and catching criminal conduct before it achieves its goal e.g. the building of damaging technology to corrupt or manipulate other computer systems.

Cybercrime is incredibly damaging to businesses and the UK economy, and there has been a conscious effort on the part of governments and prosecutors to aggressively investigate and sanction instances wherever possible. The rules in this area are incredibly complex, but surprisingly simple to breach. If you are being investigated, you need to instruct an expert cybercrime defence lawyer that understands how the specialised legislation works and to test the limits of the prosecution’s case. Bright Line Law has a specialised practice of defending clients alleged to have committed these crimes. Our barrister-led practice combines this knowledge and fierce advocacy to secure the best outcome for our clients, protecting their interests and testing the quality of the prosecution’s evidence.

Defending allegations of cybercrime

It is vital that charges for the commission of e-crime are met by a strong and effective legal defence. A successful prosecution for cybercrime can result in either a significant fine, or a period of imprisonment. In some situations, the prosecution may seek to achieve the maximum of five years’ imprisonment together with an unlimited fine for the commission of cybercrime.  At Bright Line Law, we review the evidence of prosecutors and scrutinise this for weaknesses. We also have access to a range of technical experts that are capable of analysing data that the prosecution use to support their case, giving our clients access to a valuable resource to protect their interests.

Expert legal counsel for defending cybercrime allegations

Cybercrime offences are challenging to prosecute, and equally so to defend. Individuals charged with cybercrime must instruct defence lawyers that have experience dealing with the technicalities of computer and criminal law, and are aware of the rules on the admissibility of computer evidence. Further, an effective defence lawyer will understand the court process, and how to navigate this effectively to reduce the likelihood of a criminal charge being secured. If you are facing investigation for any aspect of cybercrime you should instruct a leading defence lawyer with experience of these specialised cases to protect your interests in court.

Bright Line Law is a leading law firm, providing representation and advice to clients facing allegations for cybercrime. Bright Line Law is highly regarded as a specialist provider, winning the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers of 2017 award, as well as being Top Ranked within the UK Bar Chambers for 2018 and 2019. Contact a member of our team, call us on + 44 (0)203 709 9470, or fill in our online enquiry form.

Jonathan Fisher QC
Lead Counsel

Telephone + 020 3872 2852

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