Financial penalties for transport offences are one of the many tools that regulators can use to enforce the requirements of the system. Unlike some of the other regulatory tools, such as education, warnings, and licencing, financial penalties tend to become out-of-date over time. Some transport penalties, particularly for more serious offences, were set three decades ago. In addition, many penalty levels have been developed in relation to a specific topic or legislation, in isolation to other transport legislation or comparable regimes.
Consequently, many of the transport specific penalties are inconsistent, out of step with comparable modern legislation, and potentially not acting as an effective deterrent. In response to these issues, the Ministry of Transport has developed the Effective Financial Penalties Framework (the Framework) and associated categorisation Tool (the Tool). The Framework provides a set of principles and a systematic approach to support the process for setting more consistent and appropriate financial penalty levels across the three transport modes (land, maritime and aviation). These principles are:
- Respond to the offences’ severity (through assessment of the expected types of harm)
- Act as a deterrent (penalties are set at a level that will credibly deter offending)
- Be proportionate (to harm, and in relation to offences risking similar harm across transport and other legislation)