Licensing Act: Offences now carry 'potentially unlimited' fines

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Licensing Act: Offences now carry 'potentially unlimited' fines

Related tags: Persistently selling alcohol, Crime, Binge drinking

Magistrates could hand out unlimited fines for offences under the Licensing Act 2003, following the removal of a cap on maximum penalties. 

The provision to cap fines at £5,000 or £20,000 was abolished in March in favour of unlimited fines following the commencement of S.85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Offences affected by the new provisions, which cover England and Wales, include:

  • Carrying on unauthorised licensable activities (previously £20,000)
  • Exposing alcohol for unauthorised sale (previously £20,000)
  • Allowing the sale of alcohol to children (previously £5,000)
  • Persistently selling alcohol to children (previously £20,000)
  • Consumption of alcohol by children (previously £5,000)
  • Contravention of a closure order (previously £20,000)

“The effect is that where a fine was previously capped at £5,000 or above there is now no limit on the fine that can be given by the Magistrates' Court and so financial penalties are potentially unlimited,” Poppleston Allen solicitor Natasha Beck said.

She added the revision applies to convictions relating to offences committed on or after 12 March and the court must still take into account the financial circumstances of the offender when making their decision.

Related topics: Licensing law

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1 comment


Posted by ken nason,

And completely out of proportion to the "crime".

The existing fines are sufficient punishment for those who transgress. Funny there are no figures available to show what the extent of these crimes are year on year to justify the latent increase in fines.

Are we on our way to transportation and the death penalty next? I thought our civilisation was supposed to be progressing not regressing

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