Scottish Courts must now impose a surcharge where a person is convicted of an offence and where that person is fined.

The Victim Surcharge (Scotland) Regulations 2019 came into force on 25 November 2019. These regulations make provision for the operation of the Victim Surcharge and the administration of a Victim Surcharge Fund that is intended to provide practical support to victims of crime and their families.

The Scottish Ministers will publish a guidance on the operation of the Surcharge by 25 May 2020 and payments from the Victim Surcharge Fund will commence from that date.

The level of the Surcharge is dependent on the amount of the fine imposed, as follows -

Amount of fine

Surcharge payable

Up to and including £200

£10

Between £200.01 to £500 inclusive

£20

Between £500.01 to £1,000 inclusive

£40

Between £1,000.01 to £2,500 inclusive

£75

Between £2,500.01 to £5,000 inclusive

£175

Between £5,000.01 to £10,000

£350

In excess of £10,000

7.5% of the fine

The reach of these Regulations is extensive as it applies to any offence (including Regulatory breaches) where a fine is imposed on conviction.

Client advice will therefore require to take into account this additional layer of penalty which could have a significant financial impact on sole traders and smaller businesses convicted of health and safety offences. Fines in such cases will routinely see a 7.5% surcharge applied.

Given the majority of fines imposed by courts will be at the lower end of the scale – and the historic difficulty in collecting them – it remains to be seen whether the money accrued to the Victim Surcharge Fund meets the Scottish Government’s expectations. If not, an increase in the surcharges to be applied will impact upon health and safety cases most of all.