§ Lord Kennet
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will consider fining polluters proportionately to their annual British (or global) turnover. [HL2291]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty)
It is for the courts to determine the penalties they impose, within the terms of the relevant legislation. The Criminal Justice Act 1991 (as amended) requires them to take into account the financial circumstances of the offender in fixing the amount of any fine. Fines imposed should thus reflect the means of the company as well as the gravity of the offence. The Court of Appeal judgment inRv. Howe and Son (Engineers) Ltd (The Times, November 27,1998) made it clear that where the defendant is a company, the fine needs to be large enough to bring the message home not only to those who manage it but also to its shareholders. Although Howe was a health and safety case, this principle is of relevance to environmental offences.