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5. Offences

According to Section 12 (1):
“…If a person carries on the business of consultant lobbying…whilst unregistered, an offence is committed…”

and in Section 12 (2) (a)
“…the person’s entry in the Register is inaccurate or incomplete in a material particular, and (b) the person has failed, when required to submit an Information Return under Section 5, to provide sufficient information…”

and in Section 12 (3):
“…Where a person is required to submit an Information Return under Section 5, it is an offence for the person-(a) to fail to do so within the period specified…, or (b) to provide information which is inaccurate or incomplete in a material particular…”

and in Section 12 (4):
“…Where an Information Notice has been served on a person, it is an offence for the person-(a) to fail to supply the required information on or before the date by which the person is required to do so, or (b) to provide information which is inaccurate or incomplete in a material particular…”

I intend to take the following approaches in respect of civil and criminal enforcement activity which I may pursue in respect of these offences:

Civil Penalties

According to Section 14 (1):
“…The Registrar may impose a civil penalty on a person…”

and according to Section 15 (1):
“…Before imposing a civil penalty…, the Registrar must serve on that person a notice stating that the Registrar proposes to impose the penalty…” and in Section 15 (2) (d): “…inform the person that the person may, within a period specified in the Notice, make written representations in relation to the proposal…” and in Section 15 (3):  “…The Registrar must not impose the penalty before the end of the period specified under subsection 2(d)…”

and in Section 15 (4):
“…The Registrar must consider any written representations received before the end of that period…”

According to Section 16 (1):
“…If the Registrar decides to impose a civil penalty, the Registrar must serve on the person a notice to that effect…” and in  Section 17 (1): “…A person on whom a penalty notice has been served may appeal to the Tribunal…”

In the event that I decide to pursue civil enforcement procedures, I intend to keep those procedures confidential until they have been concluded. The conclusion could be to take no further action or to impose a penalty. If the outcome was to take no further action, I intend that there would be no publication of this information. If the outcome was to impose a penalty, as a matter of normal practice, I would intend to publish that decision (including the reasons why the penalty notice was imposed) on my website, as soon as the recipient has decided to accept that penalty or the timescale for appeals has passed, and to annotate the Register accordingly (e.g. record updated on date in accordance with penalty notice reference).

In the event that I decide to impose a penalty and the recipient appeals to the Tribunal, I intend to publish the decision of the Tribunal on my website as soon as it is available. In the event that this decision (which is binding on all parties) has effect on the Register, I intend to annotate the Register accordingly (e.g. record updated on date in accordance with Tribunal decision reference).

In both cases, however, I reserve the right to keep civil penalty matters confidential, if it is in the public interest to do so.

Criminal penalties

According to Section 12 (7):
“…A person guilty of an offence under any of subsections (1) to (4) is liable-(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales for an offence committed before the coming into force of section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, the fine under subsection (7) must not exceed the statutory maximum…”

The Crown Prosecution Service will only confirm the name of a defendant once they have been charged by the police. Once the case has reached court, anything that is said and the outcome of the case are matters of public record (subject to any reporting restrictions).

In the event that I decide to pursue criminal enforcement procedures, I intend to keep those procedures confidential until the case comes to court. In the event of a guilty verdict, I intend to publish that decision (including the salient facts of the case) on my website as soon as the judgement has been made and to annotate the Register accordingly (e.g. record updated on date in accordance with criminal case reference). Given the level of culpability implicit in a criminal conviction, I would also consider issuing a press notice.

In the event of a not guilty verdict, I intend to keep that matter confidential, unless it is in the public interest not to do so. For the avoidance of doubt, in such a case, it would be only in the rarest cases that I would publish anything at all.