Chapter 4
What circumstances might justify the use of civil pecuniary penalties?


4.51Some of the arguments set out above are more persuasive than others. Each has its limits and most involve a more complex weighing of factors than may first appear. Furthermore, none of the arguments, by themselves, necessarily justify the use of civil pecuniary penalties as against other sanctions or remedies that may be available to policy-makers. Why, in a proposed regime, should civil pecuniary penalties be employed rather than strict liability offences, infringement offences or fixed administrative penalties, for example?

4.52There is no absolute answer to the question of which arguments are valid and which are not. Usually a combination of them will be employed to support a proposal for a new regime. Ultimately, what should be required is that any policy proposal for a civil pecuniary penalty regime adequately and robustly addresses the limits and complexities of the arguments.

4.53We are interested in feedback on the validity of each of the arguments set out above. Also, are there any policy justifications that we have missed? In our final report we anticipate recommending some form of guidance for policy-makers when they are considering proposing a civil pecuniary penalty regime. Responses to these questions will feed into that guidance.

Q1 What circumstances favour the inclusion of civil pecuniary penalties in legislation?

Q2To what extent is there scope to broaden the use of civil pecuniary penalties to target more traditional criminal offending, for example, where there is a comparatively low level of harm?

Q3Is there any conduct for which civil pecuniary penalties are not suited?