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EG 19.28 1Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Referral Fees) Regulations 2013

EG 19.28.1

1The Referral Fees Regulations give the FCA investigation and sanctioning powers in relation to the contravention of the rules against referral fees contained in sections 56 to 60 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (the LASPO Act), as well as the contravention of requirements imposed by, or under, the Referral Fees Regulations.

EG 19.28.2

1The FCA's approach to taking enforcement action under the Referral Fees Regulations will mirror its general approach to enforcing the Act, as set out in EG 2. It will seek to exercise its enforcement powers in a manner that is transparent, proportionate and responsive to the issue and consistent with its publicly stated policies. It will also seek to ensure fair treatment when exercising its enforcement powers. Finally, it will aim to change the behaviour of the person who is the subject of its action, to deter future non-compliance by others, to eliminate any financial gain or benefit from non-compliance and, where appropriate, to remedy the harm caused by the non-compliance.

EG 19.28.3

1The Referral Fees Regulations, for the most part, mirror the FCA's investigative and sanctioning powers under the Act. The FCA has adopted procedures and policies for the use of those powers that are akin to those it has under the Act. Key features of the FCA's approach are described below.

Information gathering and investigation powers

EG 19.28.4

1The Referral Fees Regulations apply much of Part 11 of the Act. The effect of this is to apply the same procedures under the Act for appointing investigators and requiring information when investigating contraventions of the relevant provisions of the LASPO Act or the Referral Fees Regulations.

EG 19.28.5

1The FCA will notify the subject of the investigation that it has appointed investigators to carry out an investigation under the Referral Fees Regulations and the reasons for the appointment, unless notification is likely to result in the investigation being frustrated. In most cases, the FCA expects to carry out a scoping visit early on in the enforcement process. The FCA's policy in civil investigations under the Referral Fees Regulations is to use powers to compel information, in the same way as it would in the course of an investigation under the Act.

Decision making under the Referral Fees Regulations

EG 19.28.6

1The RDC is the FCA's decision maker for decisions which require warning notices or decision notices to be given under the Referral Fees Regulations, as set out in DEPP 2 Annex 1G. The RDC will make its decisions following the procedure set out in DEPP 3.2 or, where appropriate, DEPP 3.3.

EG 19.28.7

1The Referral Fees Regulations do not require the FCA to publish procedures to commence criminal prosecutions. However, the FCA will normally follow its equivalent decision-making procedures for similar decisions under the Act, as set out in EG 12.

EG 19.28.8

1The Referral Fees Regulations do not require the FCA to publish procedures to apply to the court for an injunction or restitution order. However, the FCA will normally follow its equivalent decision-making procedures for similar decisions under the Act, as set out in EG 10 and EG 11.

EG 19.28.9

1The Referral Fees Regulations apply sections 393 and 394 of the Act to warning notices and decision notices given under the Referral Fees Regulations and so require the FCA to give third party rights and to give access to material.

EG 19.28.10

1The Referral Fees Regulations apply the procedural provisions of Part 9 of the Act, as modified by the Referral Fees Regulations, in respect of matters that can be referred to the Tribunal. Referral to the Tribunal in respect of decision notices given under regulation 26(1) of the Referral Fees Regulations are treated as disciplinary referrals for the purpose of section 133 of the Act.

Public censures, imposition of penalties and the impositions of suspensions or restrictions under the Referral Fees Regulations

EG 19.28.11

1When determining whether to take action to impose a penalty or to issue a public censure under the Referral Fees Regulations, the FCA's policy includes having regard to the relevant factors in DEPP 6.2 and DEPP 6.4. When determining the level of financial penalty, the FCA's policy includes having regard to the relevant principles and factors in DEPP 6.5 to 6.5B, DEPP 6.5D and DEPP 6.7.

EG 19.28.12

1As with cases under the Act, the FCA may settle or mediate appropriate cases involving civil breaches of the Referral Fees Regulations to assist it to exercise its functions. DEPP 5, DEPP 6.7 and EG 5 set out information on the FCA's settlement process and the settlement discount scheme.

EG 19.28.13

1When determining whether to take action to impose a suspension or restriction under the Referral Fees Regulations, the FCA's policy includes having regard to the relevant factors in DEPP 6A.2 and 6A.4. When determining the length of the period of suspension or restriction, the FCA's policy includes having regard to the relevant principles and factors in DEPP 6A.3. However, the FCA does not have the power to suspend an authorised person’s permission under the Referral Fees Regulations.

EG 19.28.14

1The FCA will apply the approach to publicity that is outlined in EG 6.