Unlimited fines in the Magistrates’ Court for some Licensing Act 2003 offences

Posted by Tom Walker, 23rd March 2015
By virtue of the entry into force of Section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on 12 March 2015, a number of offences under the Licensing Act (the Act) 2003 are no longer limited to the previous statutory maximum financial penalty of £20,000.

Offences under the Act are summary only and thus can only be tried in the Magistrates’ Court. The maximum penalties for some of the less serious offences remain unchanged – and indeed some offences remain limited to £5,000 or less. However, there will be no statutory limitation for the more serious offences, such as:

  • Carrying on unauthorised licensable activities (s136)
  • Exposing alcohol for unauthorised sale (s137)
  • Persistent sale of alcohol to children (s147A)
  • Sale of alcohol on moving vehicles (s156)
  • Breach of an order prohibiting sale of alcohol on trains (s157)
  • Contravention of a closure order (s168)

The new provisions apply to convictions in relation to offences committed on or after 12 March 2015. However, Courts are still required to sentence on the basis of ‘offence seriousness’ which involves an assessment of the culpability of the offender and any harm caused. Furthermore, before a financial penalty is imposed, the Court must take into account the financial circumstances of the offender.

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