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Enforcement powers

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24 April 2015

Where non-compliance occurs, the Clean Energy Regulator may impose a range of enforcement powers from administrative penalties and infringement notices to substantial civil penalties and criminal sanctions for dishonest or fraudulent behaviour.

The extent of the enforcement we employ depends on the severity of the contravention and how long it is continued.

Civil and criminal penalties

Non-compliance with aspects of the legislation that carry penalty provisions will trigger civil or criminal penalties.

Civil penalties and infringement notices

Most penalty provisions in the clean energy legislation impose civil penalties. Civil penalties create a financial penalty and are not considered criminal offences or involve imprisonment.

Where we have reasonable grounds to believe that a person has breached a civil penalty provision of the legislation, we may issue an infringement notice instead of initiating court proceedings. The infringement notice will specify the nature of the alleged contravention and the amount of the penalty that must be paid. Failure to pay the stated amount may still result in court action.

Criminal penalties

There are, however, several provisions that impose a criminal penalty. Conduct that contravenes civil penalty provisions may also constitute a criminal offence.

These offences generally relate to behaviour that involves dishonest or fraudulent conduct or could involve considerable harm to society, the environment, the schemes we administer or the participants of the schemes.

Court action

We will pursue legal action, where appropriate, for continuing or serious non-compliance.

Legal action may result in the court:

  • ordering an injunction requiring a person to do, or desist from doing, something
  • making an order directing a person to comply with an enforceable undertaking (where the court is satisfied that an enforceable undertaking has been breached)
  • making an order directing a person to pay to us an amount up to the amount of any financial benefit gained, where the gain is directly or indirectly attributable to the breach of an enforceable undertaking
  • making an order directing a person to compensate any other person who has suffered loss or damage as a result of a breach of an enforceable undertaking
  • ordering relinquishment of carbon units or Australian carbon credit units where the issue of the units is attributable to fraudulent conduct by the person
  • making an order directing a person (including executive officers of bodies corporate) to pay a penalty as a result of breaching one of the civil penalty provisions (as well as the penalty for the initial breach, some civil penalty provisions are subject to additional penalties that accrue on a daily basis from the time of the contravention; some penalties are also scalable), or
  • convicting a person suspected of having contravened any of the various criminal offence provisions in the legislation.

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