The Law Commission has published an Issues Paper seeking public feedback on the use of civil pecuniary penalties. The topic was referred to the Law Commission by the Government, following concerns expressed by the Legislative Advisory Committee.

Civil pecuniary penalties are financial penalties imposed by enforcement agencies to punish individuals and corporate entities for breaching the law. As civil rather than criminal penalties, they involve no possibility of imprisonment and require more relaxed standards of proof and procedure. Their appeal in this respect has led to their use in 15 Acts of Parliament, the Commerce Act 1986 most notably among them.

Nonetheless, civil pecuniary penalties can be particularly severe - involving sums of up to $1 million for an individual and more than $10 million for a company. There is little guidance as to when such penalties should be included in legislation and regarding the appropriate safeguards. These are among the issues the Law Commission raises for consideration.

The Issues Paper can be accessed on the Law Commission's website, here. The closing date for submissions is Friday 15 February 2013.