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The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Enforcement sanctions

We regulate political funding and spending. We have powers to impose sanctions where we find there has been a breach of the rules.

Sanctions we can use

The sanctions available to us are listed below, you can find more detailed information about each sanction in our enforcement policy.

The sanctions apply to most breaches of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA). Some breaches however can only be dealt with by criminal prosecution. The table below shows which breaches must be dealt with by criminal prosecution, as well as a full list of the breaches we can investigate and sanction.

Fixed monetary penalty

  • A £200 fine (this increases if not paid within 28 days)

Variable monetary penalty

  • A fine ranging between £250-£20,000 depending on the type of offence and the facts of the case (the fine increases if not paid within 28 days).

Compliance notice (discretionary requirement)

  • A notice setting out action that must be taken by the person or organisation that has broken the rules to make sure they follow the rules in future. We can fine the person or organisation if they do not do what we have asked.

Restoration notice (discretionary requirement)

  • A notice setting out actions that must be taken by the person or organisation that has broken the rules to restore the position, as far as possible, to what it would have been if they had not broken the rules. We can fine the person or organisation if they do not do what we have asked.
  • Variable Monetary Penalties, Compliance Notices and Restoration Notices can be used in combination. Where any fine is not paid, we can recover the money through the courts.

Stop notice

  • A notice which prohibits a person or organisation from carrying on or beginning a specified activity until the steps set out in the notice are taken.

Enforcement undertaking

  • An organisation or individual that has broken the rules can propose to take specified actions which will make sure they follow the rules in future and/or restore the position, as far as possible, to what it would have been if they had not broken the rules. If we agree to the proposal this will usually mean there is no need for a sanction.

Forfeiture of funds

Forfeiture is not technically a sanction in the same way as those above, but is a course of action open to the Commission in certain situations, as well as, or instead of sanctions. The law specifies who parties or others we regulate can accept donations from,  known as 'permissible donors'. Where a donation is accepted from a source that is not 'permissible', it may be a breach of the rules, in which case we can seek forfeiture of some or all of the donation, meaning the money has to be given up to the public purse. We usually achieve this through agreement with the person or organisation who accepted the donation, but if necessary we can begin court proceedings to seek a forfeiture order.

Previous sanctions regime

Prior to 1 December 2010 a different sanctions regime applied

Following the introduction of new sanctions on 1 December 2010, we  published a report in July 2012 about our use of sanctions between 1 December 2010 and 31 March 2012:

We now publish details of our sanctions monthly on our website and in our annual report.

Roles and responsibilities