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Consultation response

Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy: Consultation Response

This response sets out our position in relation to the consultation around proposed changes to our Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

Proposal 14: Suspension


Updated paragraph 5.27

The Commission has the power to suspend a licence on deciding to conduct a review or during a review if the Commission suspects that:  

  • a licensed activity is being or has been carried on in a manner which is inconsistent with the licensing objectives
  • a condition of the licence has been breached
  • a licensee has failed to cooperate with a review, or
  • the licensee is unsuitable to carry on the licensed activities.

A licensee who wishes to challenge an interim suspension may seek a hearing before a Regulatory Panel of Commissioners. In such a case, the Commission will list the matter for hearing as soon as reasonably practicable.

Consultation question

    Q18. To what extent do you agree with the amended paragraph?

Respondents’ views

The majority of respondents agreed with the proposed amendment. Respondents’ comments related to:

  • ensuring any sanctions are proportionate to non-compliance
  • affording an opportunity for remedial action prior the point of suspension particularly where there has been limited investigation
  • providing greater clarity on whether the suspension remains in force if challenged
  • the challenges of appealing a decision to officials when officials made the initial suspension decision
  • the perceived lack of industry experience on the Commission’s Board
  • the need to further clarify ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ recognising time is of the essence
  • the Commission should be clear and provide information on what failings could lead to a suspension

The respondents who supported the change indicated this would be a generous and reasonable addition.

Our position

The Commission recognises the significant impact suspensions have on licensees and undertakes such action only when there is a reasonably held belief that this is the only action which will appropriately mitigate the alleged breaches whilst further enquiries are undertaken.

We recognise the need to engage at an early point and will work to ensure that if suspension is believed to be required, we will engage with the licensee initially. Should those efforts not yield the results we expect then suspension will follow its procedural route. Where such a decision is challenged it would be before different officials and as such we will continue with the amendment. Commissioners are not employees of the Commission and afford a layer of separation from officials which will help act as a safeguard to test our decision making.

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Proposal 13: Financial penalties
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Proposal 15: Regulatory settlements
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