It is hoped that this part of the Bill will simplify the offence provisions and introduce a more structured and consistent process.
The categories of offence and associated penalties are as follows:
- Category 1 – conviction on indictment can result in a term of imprisonment of up to ten years and/or a€500,000 fine while a summary prosecution for a category 1 offence will result in a Class A fine and/or a term of imprisonment of up to twelve months;
- Category 2 – conviction on indictment can result in a term of imprisonment of up to five years and/or a €50,000 fine while a summary prosecution for a category 2 offence will result in a Class A fine and/or a term of imprisonment of up to twelve months;
- Category 3 – summary offence only attracting a term on up to six months imprisonment and/or a Class A fine; and
- Category 4 – summary offence only punishable by a Class A fine.
A Class A fine is that within the meaning of the Fines Act 2010 and is a fine not exceeding €5,000.
There will however, be a small number of exceptions to the four tier categorisation scheme in the case of some very serious breaches such as fraudulent trading and prospectus and market abuse offences.
Similar to the current regime, all summary prosecution may be brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The Registrar of Companies will also be able to prosecute a number of specific offences.
Finally the bill introduces a further new provision whereby the Court may, following a conviction for an offence under the bill, order that a convicted person must remedy any breach of the bill for which they were convicted.