This is a single section from Chapter 26. Read the full chapter here.

What limitation period should apply to pecuniary penalties?

The limitation periods in the Limitation Act 2010 should apply to pecuniary penalties unless there are good reasons for different periods.

If a pecuniary penalty statute does not deal specifically with limitation periods, the normal rules for civil proceedings in the Limitation Act 2010 apply. Officials should consider whether there are good reasons to deviate from that default position, for example, if the penalties are being retrofitted into a regime with its own limitation provisions. There may also be a concern that the long-stop extension in the Limitation Act 2010, which allows periods to be extended if the damage is not discoverable, will extend the period of potential liability for 15 years from the date of the actions.

An analysis of limitation periods should take into account the following factors:

  • the time period within which breaches of the regulatory regime ought to be discoverable;
  • the time period within which enforcement agencies ought to be able to make decisions to bring proceedings;
  • fairness to potential defendants in relation to knowing whether or not proceedings will be commenced (it is possible that the larger the potential pecuniary penalty, the greater the need for certainty); and
  • the public or market expectations of prompt prosecutorial action.

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