The government has today announced that the £5,000 cap which used to limit Magistrates' sentencing powers has now been removed.
Today's changes replace that upper limit to 'unlimited', which means businesses must now expect to receive much larger fines with the overall aim to bring the message home to shareholders.
In September 2014, Shoosmiths published an article discussing the then impending change, which can be viewed here.
Justice Minister Mike Penning stated that 'Criminals should be in no doubt that if they break the law they will face consequences and where a fine is the most appropriate sentence this could run into several thousands.'
Importantly, the Ministry of Justice's reasoning for including the new powers is to encourage greater use of fines and to enable magistrates to impose more proportionate fines on 'wealthy or corporate offenders and organisations'.
It should be noted that this new regime is not retrospective and will therefore not apply to offences committed prior to today's date. It will, however, impact on many offences of a regulatory and compliance nature, such as health and safety offences.
In addition, we are still awaiting the results of the consultation on the new proposed sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences and food safety and hygiene offences. Further information can be found here.
For more information on the changes or to obtain advice on your business's compliance, please contact us.
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.