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New Act increases penalties for breaches of Health and Safety Legislation

January 9, 2009

The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, which received Royal Assent on 16 October 2008, comes into force on 16 January 2009. It raises the maximum penalties that can be imposed for breaching health and safety regulations in the lower courts from £5000 to £20 000. The Act also broadens the range of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned.

Summary of current and new penalties under the Act

Current maxima:

  • £5k or £20k for summary offence in lower courts, depending on offence; unlimited fine for indictable offence;
  • Imprisonment not available for most offences (but up to 6 months in magistrates court / 2 years in Crown Court for few offences eg failing to comply with a prohibition notice or breaching a licensing requirement).

New maxima:

  • £20k fines in lower courts for nearly all summary offences, unlimited fines in higher courts;
  • Imprisonment for nearly all offences – up to 12 months in Magistrates Courts and 2 years in the Crown Court.
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