Chapter 2
Civil pecuniary penalties in New Zealand and the scope of our review

2.1There is a wide range of non-criminal “penalties”, “orders” and “notices” on the statute book that share some of the characteristics of civil pecuniary penalties. A variety of terminology is used. They include “civil penalties”,14  civilly-enforced “fines”,15  “penalties”,16  “civil infringement notices”,17  and “administrative penalties”. It is not possible to review all of these in the context of this review, and we have had to make some difficult decisions as to the breadth of the project. There has necessarily been an element of arbitrariness about some of our scoping decisions. Certainly, however, the terminology used has not been determinative.

2.2In this chapter we describe the range of civil pecuniary penalties and the current extent of their use. We also explain the scope of the project and give a brief overview of other forms of civilly-enforced penalties and remedies on the statute book. A description of the various penalties and remedies on the statute book reinforces some of the general points made in this review. They illustrate that legislators are turning to an ever-widening range of interventions to ensure that legislation is effectively enforced. There is growing inconsistency around the terminology used and an appearance of piecemeal and ad hoc development of some of these solutions. Our aim in this review is to avoid any such future development of civil pecuniary penalties and to ensure that there is a principled and considered framework for their use.

14Fisheries Act 1996 / Fisheries (Demerit Points and Civil Penalties) Regulations 2001, Forests (Permanent Forest Sink) Regulations 2007, Tax Administration Act 1994.
15Building Act 2004, s 318 under the heading “disciplinary penalties”.
16Employment Relations Act 2000, s 134.
17Telecommunications Act 2001 / Telecommunications (Civil Infringement Notice) Regulations 2007.