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Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008


The Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act (the Act) 2008 is part of the Government’s commitment to implementing the Hampton agenda. It seeks to advance Hampton’s vision of a regulatory system, at both a national and local level, that is risk-based, consistent, proportionate and effective.

The Act received Royal Assent on 21 July 2008 where parts 1, 3 and 4 commenced on 1 October 2008 and Part 2 commenced on 6 April 2009. A copy of the Act can be found at:

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 (PDF, 265kb)

What does the Act cover?

The Act comprises four distinct, but linked, parts:

Part 1: Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO)

Established the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO), giving it statutory powers, to promote adherence to the principles of better regulation amongst local authorities, and greater co ordination between them and central government. It brings financial benefits to businesses through increased clarity and guidance to local authorities, helping them work together to keep the burdens of regulation on compliant business to a minimum. 

Part 2: Coordination of regulatory enforcement

Delivers on the Government's commitment to place Home and Lead Authority Principles on a statutory footing, securing coordination and consistency of regulatory enforcement by local authorities by establishing a Primary Authority scheme. Businesses operating in more than one local authority area that choose to have a Primary Authority Partnership will benefit from improved consistency of advice and enforcement across local authority trading standards, environmental health, licensing and fire and rescue services. The Primary Authority scheme is run by the LBRO.

The effective operation of the scheme required Statutory Instruments (SIs) to be made dealing with four key issues:

  1. The application of the scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland
  2. The definition of enforcement action
  3. Exclusions from the requirement to notify the Primary Authority
  4. Determination by the LBRO.

The SIs have been laid for Parliamentary scrutiny. They can be accessed at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si200906. 

Part 3: Civil sanctions

Part 3 provides for regulators an extended tool kit of alternative civil sanctions as a more proportionate and flexible response to cases of regulatory non-compliance normally dealt with in the criminal courts. In particular, the extended toolkit allows regulators to remove the financial benefit gained by businesses that deliberately seek an advantage though non-compliance with their regulatory obligations, while helping to secure increased compliance.  

The civil sanctions which regulators may impose as alternatives to criminal sanctions are fixed monetary penalties; discretionary requirements (such as variable monetary penalties and non-monetary requirements), stop notices, and enforcement undertakings.  

The Act contains a number of safeguards designed to ensure that the civil sanctions powers are used fairly and properly by regulators on whom the powers have been conferred, for instance: 

  • Regulators must exercise the power in accordance with the better regulation principles, namely the exercise of the power must be proportionate, transparent, consistent, accountable and targeted.
  • The exercise of each of the powers is subject to a right of appeal.
  • Regulators granted the power to impose a civil sanction must publish guidance about its use of the sanction and revise the guidance where appropriate. Further, it must have regard to the guidance or revised guidance in exercising its functions. 

Part 4: Regulatory burdens

Creates a duty that requires regulators to review their functions, not to impose unnecessary burdens, and unless disproportionate or impracticable, to remove burdens that are found to be unnecessary. Regulators that are subject to the duty must report on progress annually. 

How might the provisions work in practice?

Guidance to the Act has been published:

Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008: guidance to the Act (PDF, 828KB)   

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