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Enforcement outcomes: overview

Published: 25 October 2022

  1. The powers we use aim to secure positive enforcement outcomes in one or more of the following ways:
    • Prevention: the person may need to take steps to address and prevent repeating the action that contravened pensions legislation or other duties, or caused others to do.
    • Remedy: the person may need to take action to provide funding or other financial support to the scheme, or take steps to either put things right and correct the contravention of pensions legislation or other duties.
    • Restoration: the person may need to restore loss or detriment caused to a scheme and/or its savers by putting them into the position they would have been in had the contravention of pensions legislation or other duties, or the act or conduct which caused the loss or detriment not occurred.
    • Deterrence: whether or not a contravention of pensions legislation or other duties can be put right or remedied, a sanction may be appropriate to punish the person responsible and act as a deterrent.
  2. Where appropriate, we may decide to settle part or all of our enforcement action where we have that option and it will achieve one or more of the above outcomes. You can find further information on the approach we generally take to settling proposed or ongoing enforcement action, including civil proceedings in courts and tribunals, in our settlement policy.
  3. We may, however, choose to depart from the settlement policy if we consider it appropriate, and the decision whether to settle ultimately rests with us. Our policy expressly excludes criminal cases as we cannot settle criminal proceedings out of court as a matter of law. You can read more about our approach to investigating and prosecuting our criminal cases in our prosecution policy.
  4. We take into account the powers available to us and the outcome(s) each power might achieve. More than one outcome may be pursued by use of a single power. For example:
    • the power to issue a statutory notice. These direct a person to do something (for example, pay a sum of money to a scheme), or to take certain steps or refrain from acting in a particular way (for example, remedy a breach of pensions legislation or prevent any recurrence).
    • the power to impose a financial penalty. These can be imposed for breaches of pensions legislation or other duties (for example, failing to submit a scheme return or breaching the restriction against employer related investments). These are primarily intended to punish the person responsible for the non-compliance and to encourage future compliance. They also deter the person from repeating the breach or conduct in future.
    • a power we can ask the civil courts to use (for example, to order an injunction, or to order that assets are restored to a scheme). These are primarily directed at preventing or remedying a breach.
    • bringing a prosecution in the criminal courts (for example, to prosecute for an employer-related investment breach, or fraud). This is reserved for the most serious behaviour and is intended to provide a more severe punishment and sanction for the person responsible and to deter further offences by the person or others.
  5. Where we have different options for enforcement action, for example regulatory action, a financial penalty and/or criminal prosecution, arising out of the same set of facts we follow the approach set out in the overlapping powers section.
  6. The following subsections discuss some of the enforcement powers we may use in order to achieve the enforcement outcomes of prevention, remedy, restoration and/or deterrence.