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Energy Act 2008

Section 23: Offences relating to licences

67.Once a licence has been granted, it will also be an offence to breach certain of its provisions. Subsection (1) specifies breaches which will give rise to an offence, and gives the licensing authority a power to specify by order (subject to the negative resolution procedure – see section 105) further kinds of breaches of licences that will amount to an offence. Other enforcement powers will be available in respect of breaches which are not criminal offences: see in particular section 24. The breaches attracting criminal penalties under the present section include:

  • doing something that requires the licensing authority’s consent, without obtaining such consent (for example, where the regulatory authority’s consent is required before commencing injection of carbon dioxide); and

  • a failure to keep records, notify, or make a return or report, as required by the licence.

68.Only the licence holder will be liable for offences under this section, including where the act or omission in question results from the behaviour, for example, of a contractor. However, subsection (2) provides that licence holder will have a defence if it can show that it exercised due diligence in trying to avoid committing the offence. In circumstances where the contractor was responsible for a breach, the licence holder would have to show, for example, that it had exercised due diligence in supervising the behaviour of the contractor.

69.Subsections (3) and (4) set out the penalties for those offences. These are identical to those for undertaking a licensable activity without a licence (section 22 (3)) (a fine not exceeding £50,000 and, on conviction on indictment, imprisonment not exceeding two years or an unlimited fine, or both; and lesser penalties in relation to exploration activities: on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (currently £5,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and £10,000 in Scotland) and, on conviction on indictment, an unlimited fine).

70.Subsections (5) and (6) create offences where a person knowingly or recklessly makes a false statement in order to obtain a licence, or any required consent, or fails to disclose information which that person knows, or ought to know, to be relevant to a licence application or to that consent. Subsection (7) sets out the penalties for the offences in subsections (5) and (6): on summary conviction, the person found guilty of the offence would be liable to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (currently £5,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and £10,000 in Scotland), or, on conviction on indictment, an unlimited fine.

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