1.1The Minister has asked the Law Commission to review the law relating to civil pecuniary penalties. The number of civil pecuniary penalty provisions has grown steadily over the last 25 years. The earliest were introduced by the Commerce Act 1986 and they now feature in 15 statutes. Three Bills before Parliament contain civil pecuniary penalties. Over recent years the Legislation Advisory Committee (LAC) has raised concerns about the increasing number of civil pecuniary penalty provisions and the lack of clear principle or consistency guiding their development. There is little guidance in place for government agencies considering whether to include civil pecuniary penalties in legislation. Also, there has been little debate about their benefits, drawbacks or design. No study has given general consideration to:
- The circumstances when it might be appropriate for civil pecuniary penalties to be used in a regulatory regime;
- How they should or might be used alongside other regulatory sanctions and enforcement tools; or
- The procedural protections that should be in place.
1.2The Law Commission’s task in this review is to examine these issues.