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Regulatory Reform Act 2001

The policy on enforcement

The Enforcement Concordat

24.Following the 1997 election, the Government decided not to pursue the section 5 procedures in the 1994 Act but to adopt a new approach based on co-operation between enforcers and those subject to enforcement. Representatives of business, the voluntary sector, the enforcement community and consumer groups were closely involved in the development of the Enforcement Concordat. The Concordat is a non-statutory code that describes for businesses and others what they can expect from enforcement officers. Central and local enforcement bodies commit themselves voluntarily to its principles and procedures. The full text of the Concordat is at Annex G.

25.The principles can be summarised as follows:

  • standards – service standards that business can expect from local authority enforcers will be published annually with performance against them;

  • openness – information will be given in plain language and advice will be disseminated widely;

  • helpfulness – staff will work on the basis that prevention is better than cure;

  • complaints procedures – well-publicised and timely complaints procedures will exist;

  • proportionality – any action required will be proportionate to the risks; and

  • consistency – arrangements will be in place to ensure that different enforcers treat businesses in the same way.

26.The Concordat also sets out procedures, including that:

  • a business will be told what is good advice and what is a legal requirement;

  • as far as possible in the circumstances, there will be discussion before formal action is taken; and

  • if action does have to go ahead for urgent reasons, this will be followed by a prompt written explanation of the reasons.

27.The Concordat has similar objectives to the now repealed enforcement provisions in section 5 of the 1994 Act but excludes those elements with which enforcers and businesses had difficulty. Enforcers signing up to the Concordat do so voluntarily, and are encouraged to monitor their progress against it.

28.Announcing the launch of the new policy on 4 March 1998 (House of Commons Hansard, columns 692-94), the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office said that where “minded to” procedures had been applied in primary legislation, these would be amended as the opportunity arose. The one order made under section 5 (the Deregulation (Improvement of Enforcement Procedures)(Food Safety Act 1990) Order 1996 (SI No. 1996/1683) ceased to have effect in England and Wales upon commencement of the Regulatory Reform Act at Royal Assent.

29.A full list of the organisations that have adopted the Concordat can be found on the Cabinet Office’s website(14); it is updated monthly.

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