New Act 2012 allows for unlimited fines in magistrates’ court
Fines for offences under the Companies Act 2006 are set to increase with the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) received Royal Assent on 1 May 2012 (although the changes have not yet been brought into force). The Act will affect any primary and secondary legislation in England and Wales which that gives magistrates' courts the power to impose a fine for a criminal offence.
In a nutshell, a fine payable on summary conviction that is currently capped at the statutory maximum (£5,000), or capped at a higher, specified, amount, will become a fine of an unlimited amount in England and Wales and fines below £5,000 (whether expressed by reference to the standard scale or fixed fines) will continue to be capped but the amounts may increase.
If and when the changes are brought into force, they will affect a wide range of legislation, including the Companies Act 2006, which contains several offences for which a fine of the statutory maximum can be levied on a summary conviction. These include:
- Section 167 - Duty to notify registrar of a person becoming or ceasing to be a director.
- Section 438 - Public companies: offence of failure to lay accounts and reports.
- Section 451 - Default in filing accounts and reports.
- Section 858 - Failure to deliver annual return.
Companies and their directors may have to reconsider their approach to such offences which up until now may have been treated as relatively minor because of the low fines involved.