Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Release of Law Commission Paper on Civil Pecuniary Penalties


8 November 2012

Hon Sir Grant Hammond KNZM


Law Commission

Release of Law Commission Paper on Civil Pecuniary Penalties

The Law Commission is seeking public feedback on the use of financial penalties by enforcement agencies to punish corporates and individuals for breaches of the law.

In an Issues Paper published today, the Commission notes bodies like the Commerce Commission are increasingly resorting to financial, or pecuniary, penalties instead of criminal sanctions to deal with a range of commercial and financial offending such as insider trading and price fixing.

These penalties can involve very substantial sums – up to $1m for an individual or more than $10m for a company – and are frequently used by enforcement bodies to punish breaches of a wide range of commercial and finance law including securities and overseas investment laws and anti-money laundering legislation.

They were first used in legislation in 1986 and they are now a feature of 15 Acts of Parliament.

The Commission notes that one of the attractions of financial penalties for enforcement bodies is that they are easier to obtain than criminal convictions because they are a civil rather than a criminal matter, requiring a lower standard of proof and more relaxed rules of evidence and procedure.

They can also have benefits for offenders. There is no chance of imprisonment with a civil pecuniary penalty and less risk to a person’s travel and work opportunities because of the lack of conviction.

However, the President of the Law Commission and project leader, Sir Grant Hammond, said the risks and benefits of an increasing reliance on civil penalties in New Zealand statutes needed to be carefully weighed.

For example, under a civil penalties regime, the court does not need to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt before it penalises a defendant. And the defendant does not benefit from protections like the right to silence and presumption of innocence. Also, there is a risk that civil pecuniary penalties might allow white-collar, corporate offenders to be treated more favourably than those accused of more traditional criminal offending.

“It is essential that our enforcement agencies are able to enforce their laws effectively. The question is whether we have the correct balance between those regulatory needs and fairness for individuals. There needs to be a debate about when such penalties are desirable, how they should be formulated and what safeguards there should be.”

The Issues Paper describes how civil pecuniary penalties are used in New Zealand. It asks questions about the nature of these penalties and when it might be appropriate to use them in legislation. It also asks questions about what process and protections should be used when they are imposed. The Commission seeks views on all of these matters.

The Commission welcomes any comments or submissions on the Issues Paper. The closing date for submissions is Friday 15 February 2013. The Issues Paper is available from the Law Commission’s website at www.lawcom.govt.nz/project/law-relating-civil-penalties/issues-paper.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The PM’s Indonesian Guest, And West Papua

As David Lange once said, it is almost impossible to get New Zealand to think about Indonesia, the huge nation sitting right on our doorstep.

The visit to this country early next week by Indonesian president Joko Widodo won’t change that situation, even though Widido will be the first major foreign head of state to be hosted by the Ardern government. More>>


Out By 24,000: Treasury Child Poverty Estimate Wrong

The Treasury has revised the child-poverty projections it provided to the Government in December 2017. As outlined in the Treasury’s 17 January media release, the previous estimate was based on code that included a modelling error...More>>


Mentions Russia: NZ Joins Condemnation Of Nerve Agent Attack

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has grave concerns over the use of a chemical nerve agent in the United Kingdom resulting in critically serious injuries to some of those exposed. More>>


IPCA (And Privacy Commission): Police's “Exit International” Checkpoint Was Illegal

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were not justified in stopping vehicles at a vehicle checkpoint to identify individuals who had attended an “Exit International” meeting in Lower Hutt on 2 October 2016. More>>


NZDF Coverup: Defence Admits Raid Was In Area Described In Hit And Run

When the book Hit and Run was published in March last year, the Chief of Defence Force Tim Keating held a press conference claiming the SAS had been in a different place on that date... The Defence Force has finally admitted that the “three photographs in the book are of Tirgiran Village”. More>>


"It Could Work" - Team NZ: New America's Cup Base Option

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has welcomed Emirates Team New Zealand’s acknowledgement that a new fourth base option is workable and would see Auckland host the America’s Cup in 2021. More>>





Featured InfoPages