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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 85: Removal of limit on certain fines on conviction by magistrates’ court

461.Section 85 removes limits on fines of £5,000 or more (however that amount is expressed) on conviction by the magistrates’ court. The section applies to fines set out in primary and secondary legislation. The section also modifies powers to create offences which are punishable on summary conviction by a fine with a limit of £5,000 or more, so that they are punishable by a fine of any amount. The section gives the Secretary of State a power to disapply the removal of limits and to set alternative limits, subject to certain restrictions. The section applies to sentences on summary conviction, i.e. on conviction in a magistrates’ court for an offence which is triable only summarily or triable either way (see subsection (16)).

462.Subsection (1) provides that relevant offences which are punishable on summary conviction by fines of £5,000 or more (however that sum is expressed), are punishable by a fine of any amount. Where the maximum amount of a fine which may be imposed on summary conviction is £5,000, that sum is expressed in different provisions in different ways. In some cases the amount is expressed as the specific figure of £5,000. In some cases it is expressed as ‘an amount not exceeding the prescribed sum,’ or ‘the statutory maximum,’ or ‘level 5 on the standard scale.’ In each case the amount is £5,000. This subsection applies in respect of each of those formulations, and any other formulation which has the same effect.

463.Subsection (2) provides that where a relevant power could be exercised to create an offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine of £5,000 or more, the power may be exercised to create an offence punishable by a fine of any amount.

464.Subsection (3) provides that an offence or power is relevant if it is a common law offence or it is contained in an Act or secondary legislation immediately before subsection (1) of this section comes into force. It is a relevant offence or power whether or not it is in force at that time.

465.Subsection (4) sets out a series of limitations on the provisions in subsections (1) and (2). These limitations relate to fines for offences committed before the day on which subsection (1) of this section comes into force, to the operation of restrictions on fines that may be imposed on a person under 18, and to fines imposed by a Crown Court following committal for sentence from the magistrates’ court, where the Crown Court is exercising its own sentencing jurisdiction.

466.Subsection (5) gives the Secretary of State powers by regulations to disapply subsection (1) or (2). Subsection (6) gives the Secretary of State power by regulations to make alternative provision in respect of offences or powers in respect of which the power in subsection (5) is exercised.

467.Subsections (7) and (8) deal with the situation where a fine is expressed as a proportion of £5,000 (however expressed). For instance, some offences under the Companies Act 2006 contain offences punishable by a fine of an amount per day not exceeding 10% of the statutory maximum. The Secretary of State may make regulations to specify or describe a higher amount than £5,000 for these purposes

468.Subsection (9) imposes the same limitations in respect of regulations under section 85 as are imposed by subsection (4) (described above).

469.Subsections (10) and (11) make further provision about the scope of the powers to make regulations in this section.

470.Subsections (12) and (13) provide that regulations made under this section are to be made by statutory instrument, using the affirmative resolution procedure.

471.Subsection (14) makes particular provision to deal with the possibility that the power under the Criminal Justice Act 1982 to raise the sum specified as level 5 on the standard scale to reflect increases in the value of money may be exercised before the day on which subsection (1) of this section comes into force. It provides that, if that happens, references in this section to £5,000 have effect as if they were references to the new sum.

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