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Enforcement Concordat

The Government introduced the Enforcement Concordat in 1998 in collaboration with business and local and national regulators. The aim is to promote good enforcement that brings benefits to business, enforcers and consumers. The Enforcement Concordat encourages partnership working between enforcers and businesses, and sets out the Principles of Good Enforcement which enforcers should apply in order to achieve higher levels of voluntary compliance. The principles are:

  • Standards: setting clear standards
  • Openness: clear and open provision of information
  • Helpfulness: helping business by advising on and assisting with compliance
  • Complaints: having a clear complaints procedure
  • Proportionality: ensuring that enforcement action is proportionate to the risks involved
  • Consistency: ensuring consistent enforcement practice.

To date over 96% of all central and local government organisations with an enforcement function have adopted the Enforcement Concordat.

However, nearly ten years since the Enforcement Concordat was introduced, significant progress has been made to improve approaches to regulatory inspection and enforcement. The Philip Hampton review, established by the Government in 2004, was influential in promoting the new approaches, which include:

  • increased use of risk assessment to precede and inform all regulatory enforcement work,
  • increased use of support and advice to help businesses to understand and meet regulatory requirements more easily, and,
  • Adopting proportionate, targeted and flexible approaches to applying the law and securing compliance.

There are significant similarities between the Hampton Principles of Effective Inspection and Enforcement, upon which the Compliance Code is based, and the Principles of Good Enforcement, which informs the Enforcement Concordat. However, the Hampton Principles are wider than the Principles of Good Enforcement, especially with respect to the three standards described above. It thus follows that Compliance Code is wider than the Enforcement Concordat in terms of their substantive provisions.

However, when we consulted on whether the Compliance Code should supersede the Enforcement Concordat, the majority of the respondents strongly supported keeping the Concordat alongside the Compliance Code. This is partly because the Enforcement Concordat defines relationships between enforcers and businesses in individual cases, while the Compliance Code addresses regulators' general policies. Secondly, there are many local authority regulatory functions to which the Compliance Code does not apply, whereas the Enforcement Concordat applies across all the regulatory functions of an enforcement body. The Government is persuaded by these arguments and decides to keep the Concordat.

So, the Compliance Code does not replace the Enforcement Concordat. However, to ensure that both instruments are mutually consistent and coherent, we propose to revise the Enforcement Concordat to bring it up to date with the Compliance Code. We will soon consult on this proposal, and work with key stakeholders, including businesses, local government associations and national regulators, in revising the Concordat, which will remain a voluntary and non-statutory Code.

For further information on the Enforcement Concordat, its relationship with the Compliance Code, and the proposal to update the Enforcement Concordat, please contact:

Olu Fasan at the Better Regulation Executive:
email: olu.fasan@berr.gov.gsi.uk.
Tel: 020 7215 0318.