The Regulatory and Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (the Act) and accompanying guidance have been published. This Act received Royal Assent on 21 July 2008 and amongst other things permits ministers to grant new powers to prescribed regulators including the Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Part 3 of the Act allows a Minister, by order, to give a regulator, including TPR, access to the following four new civil sanctions:
- fixed monetary penalty (FMP) notices – under which a regulator will be able to impose a monetary penalty of a fixed amount;
- discretionary requirements – which will enable a regulator to impose, by notice, one or more of the following:
- a variable monetary penalty (VMP) determined by the regulator;
- a requirement to take specified steps within a stated period to secure that an offence does not continue or happen again (compliance notice); and
- a requirement to take specified steps within a stated period to secure that the position is restored, so far as possible, to what it would have been if no offence had been committed (restoration notice);
- stop notices – which will prevent a business from carrying on an activity described in the notice until it has taken steps to come back into compliance; and
- enforcement undertakings – which will enable a business, which a regulator reasonably suspects of having committed an offence, to give an undertaking to a regulator to take one or more corrective actions set out in the undertaking.
According to the accompanying guidance these powers are intended to provide effective sanctions that are a flexible and proportionate way of addressing non-compliance by business.
These powers are not automatically granted and have not (at this stage) been granted to TPR. Prior to any of the powers being granted TPR would have to consult relevant parties and organisations. If a power is granted to TPR it would also be required to publish guidance on its new powers.