Fines and penalties

36.23Fines, and civil sanctions equivalent to criminal penalties, are not regarded as charges. Examples which have not required Ways and Means authorisation include:

  • financial penalties imposed on employers who had failed to meet their statutory obligation to pay the national minimum wage;1
  • penalties imposed by a fixed penalty notice on parents whose child has been excluded from school and is in a public place during school hours;2
  • penalties imposed on suppliers of heating fuel who fail to meet targets relating to supply from renewable heat sources;3
  • confiscation orders made against defendants who have benefited from their criminal conduct;4
  • powers given to the Information Commissioner to impose new penalties for failure to comply with data protection legislation which were considered to be equivalent to criminal penalties.5

But Ways and Means authorisation was required for:

  • a provision allowing the Gambling Commission to require a licensee to pay a penalty for breaching a condition of their licence, the penalty being paid into the Consolidated Fund after certain deductions;6
  • the imposition of penalties on water companies, which were to be paid into the Consolidated Fund, and where interest might be charged on unpaid penalties;7
  • penalties imposed by Employment Tribunals and costs orders and penalties imposed by the Competition and Markets Authority which were to be paid into the Consolidated Fund;8
  • penalties that could be imposed by the Oil and Gas Authority to be paid into the Consolidated Fund, which were held to require Ways and Means cover because of the relationship between those penalties and certain regulatory requirements;9
  • penalties to be imposed for non-compliance with conditions imposed by an authority, which were not subject to any other authorisation or process; in such a case, financial penalties were considered to have the character of a tool for deterring non-compliance with conditions, rather than a quasi-criminal sanction for unlawful behaviour.10


  1. 1. Employment Act 2008, s 9 (which substituted s 19A of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998).
  2. 2. Education and Inspections Act 2006, s 105.
  3. 3. Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill 2005–06, cl 10.
  4. 4. Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, ss 6, 92.
  5. 5. Data Protection Act 2018, ss 155–159.
  6. 6. Gambling Act 2005, s 121; CJ (2003–04) 583.
  7. 7. Water Act 2003, s 48 (which inserted the Water Industry Act 1991, ss 22A–22F); CJ (2002–03) 568.
  8. 8. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, ss 16, 31, 40, 54 and sch 11, para 1; CJ (2012–13) 45.
  9. 9. Energy Act 2016, ss 44–46, Votes and Proceedings, 18 January 2016.
  10. 10. Digital Economy Act 2017, ss 7–8, Votes and Proceedings, 13 September 2016.