Removal of cap on Magistrates’ Court fines

The change will apply only to offences committed after 12 March 2015

The cap on the levels of fines which can be imposed by magistrates’ courts for regulatory offences has been removed. This means that all regulatory offences committed after the 12 March 2015 will be subject to unlimited fines in England and Wales. The change will apply only to offences committed after 12 March 2015. Magistrates will still be able to hand down prison sentences of up to six months and will be able to refer more serious cases to a Crown Court. 

Previously, fines for health and safety, food safety and hygiene, trading standards, environmental and fire safety offences were capped between £5,000 and £50,000 in the magistrates’ court. With the removal of the magistrates’ court cap as well as the new sentencing guidelines anticipated later this year, a significant increase in fines for regulatory breaches is expected. 

If you have any questions at all, please contact one of our specialists below.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Hilary Ross

Executive Partner (London) - Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality

Recognised by The Lawyer as one of the UK’s Top 100 lawyers, I advise clients on compliance and challenges across the EU in relation to products, systems and safety.

Claire Notley


I am an Associate specialising in regulatory law and enforcement.

Dominic Watkins

Partner - Head of Food Group

I am Head of DWF’s internationally renowned food sector group as well as being Head of Regulatory in London.