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Energy Act 2008

New section 5B: Information

371.For the purpose of enabling the Secretary of State to determine whether an unconsented transfer has occurred, subsection (1) of Section 5B allows the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (the “Commissioners”) to disclose to the Secretary of State information relating to the transfer of rights granted under petroleum licences.

372.Under subsection (3), information disclosed under this section may only be further disclosed:

  • for the purposes of enabling the Secretary of State to determine whether an unconsented transfer has occurred – but only with the consent of the Commissioners (which may be general or specific);

  • pursuant to a court order; or

  • with the consent of the person(s) to whom the information relates.

373.Under subsection (4), a person commits an offence if he discloses information – except in circumstances set out under subsection (3) – which specifies the identity of the person to whom the information relates, or from which that person’s identity can be deduced.

374.Subsection (5) provides a defence to a person who is charged with an offence under subsection (4). The defence applies where a person charged proves that they reasonably believed either that the disclosure of the information was lawful, or that the information had already and lawfully been made available to the public.

375.Under subsection (6), a person found guilty of unlawfully disclosing the information is liable:

  • on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (currently £5,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and £10,000 in Scotland), a maximum of 12 months in prison, or both; or

  • on conviction on indictment, to an unlimited fine, a maximum of 2 years’ imprisonment, or both.

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