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» Back to listing Unlimited fines in Magistrates' Courts for H&S offences

23rd March 2015

 Section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 ("LASPO") allows for the removal/amendment of caps on fines which can be imposed for offences dealt with in Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales.  The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Commencement No 11) Order 2015 means that from 12th March 2015 offences committed and sentenced after that date, whether common law or contained in primary or secondary legislation, punishable on summary conviction by a fine of £5,000 or higher (however expressed) will be punishable in England and Wales (but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland) by an unlimited fine.

This is a significant change in the sentencing of offenders - many regulatory and other offences of relevance to business and their directors and managers, including those under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974, are either way offences, triable summarily in the Magistrates' Courts or on indictment in the Crown Court.  Until now, summary disposal of a case placed a maximum upper limit of £20,000 on the fine that could be imposed on the majority of offences, contrasted with the unlimited fines available if the case was sent to the Crown Court. 

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