Clause 53 describes the further provision relating to civil penalties. Clause 52 means that licence holders who do not comply with the requirements placed on them by the OFT will face civil penalties, and clause 53 sets out the procedure that the OFT must follow when deciding to impose a penalty. Under clause 52, the OFT may impose penalties by issuing a penalty notice to the defaulting licensee. The OFT must inform the licensee that it is minded to impose a penalty notice, and must set out the reasons why, set the amount of the penalty and give reasons why it has been set at that level. The OFT must also invite the defaulter to submit representations to an adjudicator. If any other penalties have been imposed for the same conduct, which the OFT is investigating, that must be taken into account. The OFT must also take into account any other steps that it might take in relation to the conduct in question, such as the revocation or suspension of a licence.
Where a penalty is imposed on a person who is responsible for group licences, the OFT must give general notice, which must set out what is required by the Act. Clause 53 is necessary to allow the OFT to inform the licence holder that it is minded to impose a penalty, and adjust the maximum amount of the penalty. It gives the defendant the power to make representations to the OFT in relation to the imposition of the penalty. The clause also enables the maximum penalty to be amended, if that proves necessary in time.
Licensees can easily avoid civil penalties by complying with the OFT requirements. Penalties are a necessary deterrent to prevent licensees from causing consumer detriment. They are a vital part of the OFT's new licensing regime.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 53 ordered to stand part of the Bill.