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Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013

Part 1: Fixed monetary penalties

250.Paragraph 1 allows the Electoral Commission to impose fixed monetary penalties where they are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a campaign offence listed in Part 7 of schedule 6 has been committed. The penalties can be imposed either on a person or on a permitted participant where the responsible person for that permitted participant has committed the offence, or where the requirements imposed by paragraphs 23(2), (3) or (4) of schedule 4 have been contravened. The amount of a fixed monetary penalty is set at £200.

251.Paragraph 2 sets out the representations and appeals processes. The Commission can serve notice of an intention to impose a fixed monetary penalty on a person. This must offer the opportunity to discharge the penalty by paying £200. Alternatively, the person can opt to make written representations and objections to the Commission against the penalty. If the deadline for making representations and objections passes without the person having paid, the Commission must decide whether to impose the penalty and serve a further notice recording that on the relevant person (sub-paragraph (4)). Sub-paragraph (5) provides that if the person’s representations have raised any matter that leads the Commission to no longer suspect the person of having committed an offence, the Commission may not impose the penalty. The person may appeal to the sheriff against the decision to impose the penalty on the grounds set out in sub-paragraph (6). Such an appeal must be made within 28 days of a decision notice being received, and the penalty is suspended until the appeal is determined or withdrawn.

252.Paragraph 3 explains what information the Commission must include when giving notice of an intention to impose a fixed monetary penalty on a person or when giving notice of a subsequent decision to impose the penalty. This must include the grounds for imposition of the sanction, the right to make representations or appeals and the time periods in which these can be made.

253.Paragraph 4 makes provision for the late payment of fixed monetary penalties. If the penalty is not paid within 28 days of the notice being received, the amount of the penalty is increased by 25%, and if it is not paid within 56 days, the amount is increased by 50%. Where a penalty is upheld on appeal, or such an appeal withdrawn, similar increases apply from the determination or withdrawal of the appeal.

254.Paragraph 5 limits the criminal proceedings that can be taken against a person for a prescribed offence or other breach that may be dealt with by way of a fixed monetary penalty. If the Commission notify the person of their intention to impose a fixed monetary penalty for the breach, no criminal proceedings for the breach can be brought during the period when liability can be discharged under paragraph 2(2). This paragraph also precludes such proceedings being taken against a person who does discharge liability by making the payment. Finally, paragraph 5(2) precludes a person on whom the Commission imposes a fixed monetary penalty under paragraph 2(4) from being convicted of an offence for the breach.

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