02 Apr Understanding Penalty Infringement Notices
Penalty Infringement Notices were introduced in the Professional Engineers Regulation 2019 and commenced on 1 January 2020.
CURRENT POWERS AVAILABLE TO THE BOARD
The Professional Engineers Act 2002 (Act) provides for the following options to the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland (Board) to promote compliance with the legislation:
- enter into an undertaking agreed with the registered professional engineer
- caution or reprimand the registered professional engineer or other person;
- impose a condition agreed to by the registered professional engineer on their registration;
- suspend or cancel a registered professional engineer’s registration;
- start a disciplinary proceeding against the registered professional engineer by applying to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which can on a finding of guilt:
▫ impose a fine;
▫ reprimand the registered professional engineer; or
▫ cancel the registration of a registered professional engineer; and/or
▫ disqualify the person from re-applying for registration for a stated period of time;
- initiate a prosecution for an offence under the Act.
PENALTY INFRINGEMENT NOTICES
A Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) is a notice or ticket imposing a fine that is usually issued on the spot, or sent by email or post, for a less serious or less complex offence. Schedule 1 of the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014 prescribes the offences in the Act for which PINs may be issued and the fines that may be imposed by those PINs. A PIN may only be issued for an offence that is prescribed as an infringement notice offence under the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014.
Offences for which PINs can be issued under the Act are listed here. Currently a penalty unit equates to a fine of $133.45 as of 1 July 2019. This is likely to increase on 1 July every year. A PIN provides the Board an alternative to prosecution through the court system.
A PIN invites an alleged offender to discharge their potential liability for an offence by paying a fine, as opposed to having the matter dealt with by a court. If, however, the person wishes to contest the alleged offence, or the penalty imposed by the PIN, they can elect to have the matter dealt with in the Queensland Magistrates Court.
The PIN system provides the Board with a swift and inexpensive means of addressing particular offences that would otherwise be required to be dealt with by means of costly and time-consuming prosecutions. Offenders benefit from a fixed and discounted penalty for the offence, avoidance of court proceedings and no finding of guilt in relation to the offence.
It is not mandatory for the Board to use PINs, and the Board will always consider the full range of options available for promoting compliance with the legislation and the most appropriate response to the alleged conduct.
DECISIONS ABOUT ISSUING PINS
In making decisions about issuing a PIN to a person for a breach of an offence provision in the Act, the Board will consider all the available evidence and decide whether issuing the PIN is in the public interest and preferable to taking other action in relation to the offence. Generally, the Board will consider the following in respect of any decision:
- whether the breach is minor in nature;
- whether the scale of the impact is known and small;
- whether imposing a PIN is likely to have a punitive effect; and
- whether the PIN is likely to act as a deterrent.
The Board will never consider a PIN if the Board considers the conduct is a major breach of the Act.