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New Sentencing Guidelines For Environmental Offences

24th October, 2014

On 1 July 2014, new sentencing guidelines were introduced for environmental offences with the intention of making sure that a conviction for an environmental offence has a ‘real impact’ on the offending business and to encourage managers and shareholders to get their compliance with environmental regulations up to speed.

The guidelines have been introduced because regulators were frustrated by the lack of consistency in sentencing and the historically low fines.

When a successful prosecution for an environmental offence occurs, the financial consequences for the business found to be in breach of the law can be severe both in terms of the fine and legal costs.

Fines are now to be geared to turnover and, whilst consideration is given to the profitability of the business, this can have a devastating effect. It has been said that the Courts need to ‘send a message’ to the shareholders that non-compliance with environmental legislation will not be tolerated.

The Courts have to follow a 12 step process to assess the means of an offender (a corporate organisation’s turnover or an individual’s income). The Courts must also look at aggravating and mitigating factors when setting a fine or fines for the matters before it.

As well as setting the fine, the process also asks the Courts to consider compensation payments, confiscation and remediation.

Whilst this document is new, there has already been a significant upward trend of fines imposed.

For more information on this or any other environmental matter, please contact Claire Petricca-Riding on 01244 405440 or email [email protected].

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