Law Commission UK Consultation Paper on Criminal Liability in Regulatory Contexts
From the press release:
"Criminal sanctions should only be used to tackle serious wrongdoing. The Commission argues it is out of proportion for regulators to rely wholly on the criminal law to punish and deter activities that are merely ‘risky’, in that they have the potential to lead to harm, unless the risk involved is a serious one."
"There has been a steep increase in the number of criminal offences created since the late 1980s to penalise risk-taking, and many more agencies have been set up with the power to make criminal laws of that kind. The areas regulated by these agencies cover a wide range of risk-posing activities, and involve millions of people and thousands of businesses."
"The Commission’s paper, Criminal Liability in Regulatory Contexts, proposes that:
- regulatory authorities should make more use of cost-effective, efficient and fairer civil measures to govern standards of behaviour, such as ‘stop’ notices,enforcement undertakings and fixed penalties
- a set of common principles should be established to help agencies consider when and how to use the criminal law to tackle serious wrongdoing, and
- existing low-level criminal offences should be repealed where civil penalties could be as effective."