Fines and penalties

Fines are imposed by the courts in criminal and civil proceedings and are calculated by multiplying the value of one penalty unit by the number of units that the offence or contravention carries.

Penalty unit values

Table 1 contains a list of penalty unit values. Note that the amount to be paid will be based on the value of one penalty unit at the time the offence or contravention was committed.

Table 1: Penalty unit values for breaches of Australian Government laws

Date of offenceValue of one penalty unit
On or after 1 July 2020 $222
Between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2020 $210
Between 31 July 2015 and 30 June 2017 $180
Between 28 December 2012 and 30 July 2015 $170
Before 27 December 2012 $110

On 1 July 2023, the value of one penalty unit will be indexed based on the formula in section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914.

Strengthened penalties for breaches of corporate laws

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Strengthening Corporate and Financial Sector Penalties) Act 2019 commenced on 13 March 2019, strengthening existing penalties and introducing new penalties for those who breach the corporate laws of Australia.

Under the new penalty provisions:

  • maximum prison penalties for the most serious offences have increased to 15 years – including breaches of director’s duties, false or misleading disclosure and dishonest conduct
  • maximum civil penalties for individuals and companies have significantly increased, and
  • civil penalties now apply to a greater range of misconduct – including a licensee’s failure to act efficiently, honestly and fairly, failure to report breaches and defective disclosure.

The new penalty provisions enable ASIC to pursue harsher civil penalties and criminal sanctions under the following ASIC-administered legislation:

  • Corporations Act 2001
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001
  • National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 and National Credit Code
  • Insurance Contracts Act 1984.

The strengthened penalties apply to contraventions occurring from 13 March 2019 onwards.

Increased civil penalties for individuals and companies

Under the new penalty provisions, the maximum civil penalty for individuals is the greater of 5,000 penalty units (currently $1.11 million) or three times the benefit obtained and detriment avoided.

The maximum civil penalty for companies is the greater of:

  • 50,000 penalty units (currently $11.1 million)
  • three times the benefit obtained and detriment avoided, or
  • 10% of annual turnover, capped at 2.5 million penalty units (currently $555 million).

The value of a penalty unit is prescribed by the Crimes Act 1914 and is currently $222 for offences committed on or after 1 July 2020.

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Last updated: 03/07/2020 04:20