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Web Alert: Increased fines for federal maritime offences in Australia

22 February 2013

Under new legislative amendments brought into force in December 2012, members trading to Australia now face significantly increased fines for a range of Commonwealth maritime offences.   

Maximum pecuniary penalties imposed for Commonwealth maritime offences in Australia are calculated using ‘penalty units’, which are set at a prescribed monetary amount. Until 28 December 2012, the value of a penalty unit was AUD110.  However, the recent legislative changes have increased this value to AUD170, a rise of more than 50%.

So for example, whilst a corporation previously faced a maximum fine of AUD275,000 for the strict liability offence of discharging garbage into the sea in contravention of Commonwealth pollution laws, they now face a maximum fine of AUD425,000 as a result of the changes.

Perhaps of more consequence is the fact that members (including charterer members) now face a maximum fine of AUD17 million (USD17.5 million) for discharging oil or oily mixtures into the sea under those same pollution laws, up from the previous maximum of AUD11 million.   

The increase in the value of penalty units is not retrospective and will not apply to offences committed before 28 December 2012. 

Members should consult with their usual club contact should they have any queries.