By Richard B Macrory, on 9 January 2013
Following the conference on regulatory sanctions held at UCL last November, the UK Environmental Law Association has written to Michael Fallon, Minister of State at the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills expressing concern at aspects of the Government’s new policy on regulatory sanctions announced on the day of the conference.
The Government has said that in future the core civil sanction penalties will be generally applicable only to companies with 250 employees or more - Oliver Letwin, Minister of State at the Cabinet office, explained at the conference that he felt smaller companies could be unfairly pressurized by regulators using the new powers and would not have the legal resources to exercise their rights of appeal.
In the UKELA letter, Richard Kimblin, barrister, and convenor of UKELA’s Litigation Working Party, argues that the new policy will significantly restrict the scope for civil sanctions to be used to deal with environmental offending in future and risks creating a complicated, two-tier system for enforcement. Further, Mr Letwin’s comments at the conference about the underlying reasoning indicated to us that the policy might be based on some misconceptions about the way the present civil sanctions system works.