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The law of cheating

Some thoughts about the law regarding cheating (in the Western world.  I will leave someone else to address chopping your hand off and such.) Dating back to English common law, the crime of cheating has been treated as a form of theft.  The elements include "appropriation" "of property" "by deceit." Appropriation requires a taking so that merely denying another of property is not an appropriation. Property was originally limited to tangible personal property, but modern statutes have greatly expanded the concept to such things as intellectual property. The property is valued at its fair market value.  Deceit requires knowledge, a.k.a. mens rea.

If a pair knowingly and by deceitful means wins masterpoints, can they be successfully prosecuted for the crime of cheating?  Probably not.  They did take masterpoints that didn't belong to them.  But masterpoints are not tangible property and would not qualify as intangible property having a market value.  Because they are not transferable, their market value is zero (even if there was cost associated with obtaining them.)

What then can an aggrieved party do?  The answer lies in civil law, in the form of tort (you hit me) and breach of contract.  Of the two, contract claims are the easier to pursue PROVIDED there is a contract.  There are two contracts in play here.  

The contract between a sponsor and a bridge professional can provide that the professional will comply with the rules and regulations.  In addition to a recovery of amounts paid and expenses, it would be possible to include a "liquidated damages provision" for failure to follow the rules.  While a services contract need not be in writing to be enforceable, a written contract solves many evidentiary  problems.

The second contract is between the player and the sanctioning organization. Does a contract currently exist? Perhaps, but the boundaries are unclear and the damages for breach difficult to value. If, however, the entry form were to contain a legend to the effect that the entrant acknowledges it is entering into a contract to comply with the sanctioning organizations rules and regulations and that a breach of this contract could result in a suit for damages, that would give the sanctioning organization a basis for pursuing legal action.  It could even go one step further and provide for liquidated damages of not less than $------- for non-procedural violations.

Are there too many lawyers in the world? Perhaps, but this may be a circumstance where calling upon the legal system to deter cheating would have value.

 

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