UK regulators publish proposals to enhance enforcement decision-making processes

The FCA and the PRA have today published proposals aimed at strengthening the transparency and effectiveness of their enforcement decision-making processes.

The proposals address recommendations made by HM Treasury in its ‘Review of enforcement decision-making at the financial services regulators’ and Andrew Green QC’s ‘Report into the FSA’s enforcement actions following the failure of HBOS’.

The consultation paper explains the changes which have already been put into practice by the regulators, and sets out the recommendations which require consultation and the proposals for implementing them.

The FCA also proposes to amend the Enforcement Guide and the Decision Procedure and Penalties Manual to provide a framework and incentives for partly contested cases. This proposal allows enforcement proceedings to be resolved when an individual or firm agrees all relevant facts and the breaches which arise from those facts, but wishes to contest the appropriate regulatory outcome before the Regulatory Decisions Committee. The FCA is not proposing any changes to the process for agreeing a full resolution of all issues – facts, liability and penalty – which will continue to have a 30% discount applied to the penalty at Stage 1.

The PRA will consult separately on the recommendations dealing with settlement and contested decision-making, once the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill has passed through Parliament. The PRA plans to publish more detail about its enforcement process alongside its implementation of the other HMT enforcement review recommendations.

Mark Steward, Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said: “It is important that people have confidence in the enforcement process and that it is used fairly, efficiently and effectively. We believe that our proposals will achieve the aim of the recommendations, which was to enhance the FCA’s capacity to deal with misconduct swiftly, fairly and robustly, and we welcome any comments on our approach to implementation.”

Robert Dedman, Head of the Regulatory Action Division at the Bank of England said: “It is crucial that the process for taking enforcement action against individuals or firms is clear, transparent and reasonable. The HMT enforcement review and Andrew Green’s report propose important enhancements to the PRA’s enforcement process which we have considered carefully. Today’s proposals are the first in a package of measures by which the PRA intends to meet those recommendations.”

The FCA statement and related information are available here.