Related provisions for EG 5.4.3
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(1) 1A person subject to enforcement action may agree to a financial penalty or other outcome rather than contest formal action by the FCA.4Alternatively, they may enter into a focused resolution agreement and in this way partly contest the proposed action (see DEPP 5.1.8AG to DEPP 5.1.8DG).54(1A) 5Further, even if the person subject to enforcement action wishes to fully contest the proposed enforcement action, they may choose to do so by (i) agreeing to the FCA issuing the required
Settlement discussions may take place at any time during the enforcement process if both parties agree. This might be before the giving of a warning notice, before a decision notice, or even after referral of the matter to the Tribunal. But the FCA4 would not normally agree to detailed settlement discussions until it has a sufficient understanding of the nature and gravity of the suspected misconduct or issue to make a reasonable assessment of the appropriate outcome. Settlement
(1) The settlement decision makers may, but need not, participate in the discussions exploring possible settlement.(2) If the settlement decision makers have not been involved in the discussions, but an agreement has been reached, they may ask to meet the relevant FCA4 staff or the person concerned in order to assist in the consideration of the proposed settlement.4
The terms of any proposed settlement:(1) will be put in writing and be agreed by FCA4 staff and the person concerned;4(2) may refer to a draft of the proposed statutory notices setting out the facts of the matter and the FCA's4 conclusions; 4(3) may, depending upon the stage in the enforcement process at which agreement is reached, include an agreement by the person concerned to: (a) waive and not exercise any rights under sections 387 (Warning notices) and 394 (Access to Authority
The settlement decision makers may:(1) accept the proposed settlement by deciding to give a statutory notice based on the terms of the settlement; or(2) decline the proposed settlement;whether or not the settlement decision makers have met with the relevant FCA4 staff or the person concerned.4
(1) Where the settlement decision makers decline to issue a statutory notice despite the proposed settlement, they may invite FCA4 staff and the person concerned to enter into further discussions to try to achieve an outcome the settlement decision makers would be prepared to endorse.4(2) However, if the proposed action by the FCA4 has been submitted to the RDC for consideration, it will be for the RDC to decide:4(a) whether to extend the period for representations in response
5The issues which may be agreed under a focused resolution agreement include, but are not limited to: (1) questions of fact;(2) whether specified facts amount to a breach (or more than one breach);(3) whether action for a financial penalty and/or public censure is warranted;(4) the appropriate level of a financial penalty;(5) whether action for a suspension, restriction, condition or limitation (as defined for the purposes of DEPP 6A) is warranted;(6) the appropriate length of
5The terms of any proposed focused resolution agreement:(1) will be put in writing and be agreed by FCA staff and the person concerned;(2) may refer to a draft of the proposed warning notice; and (3) may, depending upon the stage in the enforcement process at which agreement is reached, include an agreement by the person concerned to: (a) waive and not exercise any rights under sections 387 (Warning notices) and 394 (Access to Authority material) of the Act to notice of, or access
5Where the proposed settlement is on the basis of a focused resolution agreement, the role of the settlement decision makers shall be as follows:(1) The settlement decision makers will decide whether or not to give a warning notice. (For the avoidance of doubt, the settlement decision makers may meet the relevant FCA staff or the person concerned in accordance with DEPP 5.1.5G and any such meeting shall not affect the settlement decision makers’ ability to decide whether or not
5To use the expedited reference procedure before a warning notice has been given:(1) the notification set out in DEPP 5.1.8GG must be given to FCA staff; (2) the decision to issue a warning notice will then be taken by the settlement decision makers; and(3) the decision to issue a decision notice will also be taken by the settlement decision makers, taking into consideration any representations by any third party under section 393 of the Act or any interested party under section
5Once a decision notice has been given as part of the expedited reference procedure (whether by the settlement decision makers or the RDC), it is the responsibility of the person subject to enforcement action to seek to refer the matter to the Tribunal under the Act if they so wish. If the matter is not referred to the Tribunal within the time required under section 390(1) of the Act, the FCA will, on taking the action to which the decision notice relates, give a final notice
5If FCA staff consider that it is appropriate to publish information about the matter to which a warning notice falling within section 391(1ZB) of the Act relates and is given by the settlement decision makers, they will make a recommendation to the settlement decision makers that such information should be published.
5The settlement decision makers will then consider whether it is appropriate in all the circumstances to publish information about the matter to which the warning notice falling within section 391(1ZB) of the Act relates. The FCA's policy on publishing such information is set out in EG 6.
5If the settlement decision makers propose that the FCA should publish information about the matter to which a warning notice falling within section 391(1ZB) of the Act relates:(1) the settlement decision makers will settle the wording of the statement it proposes the FCA should publish (warning notice statement);(2) the FCA staff will make appropriate arrangements for the warning notice statement that the settlement decisions makers propose the FCA should publish to be given
5If the settlement decision makers receive a response from the person to whom the proposed warning notice statement was given, the settlement decision makers will consider their response and decide whether it is appropriate in all the circumstances to publish information about the matter to which the warning notice relates.
5If the settlement decision makers decide that the FCA should publish a warning notice statement:(1) the settlement decision makers will notify the relevant parties (including the relevant FCA staff) in writing of that decision;(2) the settlement decision makers will settle the wording of the warning notice statement; and(3) the FCA will make appropriate arrangements for the warning notice statement to be published.
(1) DEPP 2.4 sets out the FCA's4 approach to giving third parties copies of statutory notices pursuant to section 393 (Third party rights) of the Act.4(2) The decision to give a warning notice or a decision notice to a third party is a statutory notice associated decision.(3) In cases therefore where the decision to give a warning notice or decision notice is taken by settlement decision makers, those decision makers will decide whether a copy of the notice should be given to
Persons subject to enforcement action may be prepared to agree the amount of any financial penalty, or the length of any period of suspension, restriction, condition,5 limitation or disciplinary prohibition5 (see DEPP 6A)4, and other conditions which the FCA seeks to impose by way of such action. These4 conditions might include, for example, the amount or mechanism for the payment of compensation to consumers. The FCA recognises the benefits of such agreements, as4 they offer
(1) Subject to DEPP 6.7.3G(4) a settlement discount is available only in cases where a settlement agreement (which may be a focused resolution agreement) is reached during the period from commencement of an investigation until the FCA has:633(a) a sufficient understanding of the nature and gravity of the breach to make a reasonable assessment of the appropriate penalty; and633(b) communicated that assessment to the person concerned and given them reasonable opportunity to reach
6The reductions in penalty in cases involving a focused resolution agreement will be as follows.(1) Where agreement is reached in relation to all relevant facts and all issues as to whether those facts constitute a breach (or more than one breach):(a) 30% if the agreement is concluded during stage 1; and(b) 0% in any other case.(2) Where agreement is reached in relation to all relevant facts:(a) 15 to 30% if the agreement is concluded during stage 1; and(b) 0% in any other case.(3)
6Where DEPP 6.7.3AG specifies that the reduction will be within a range, the decision maker identified by DEPP 6.7.3BG will determine the appropriate figure within the range. Factors relevant to this determination may include:(1) the extent to which the position taken by the person subject to enforcement action on the disputed issues at the time the focused resolution agreement is entered into is reflected in the terms of the decision notice.(2) any saving of time or public resources
(1) Any settlement agreement6 between the FCA3 and the person concerned will therefore need to include a statement as to the appropriate penalty discount in accordance with this procedure.3(2) In certain circumstances the person concerned may consider that it would have been possible to reach a settlement at an earlier stage in the action, and argue that it should be entitled to a greater percentage reduction in penalty than is suggested by the table at DEPP 6.7.3G (3). It may
2The settlement discount scheme which applies to the amount of a financial penalty, described in DEPP 6.7.2 G to DEPP 6.7.5 G, also applies to the length of the period of a suspension, restriction,5 condition or disciplinary prohibition (other than a permanent disciplinary prohibition)5, having regard to the FCA's3 statement of policy as set out in DEPP 6A.3. No settlement discount is available with respect to a permanent disciplinary prohibition.5 The settlement discount scheme
1The FCA resolves many enforcement cases by settlement. Early settlement has many potential advantages as it can result, for example, in consumers obtaining compensation earlier than would otherwise be the case, the saving of FCA and industry resources, messages getting out to the market sooner and a public perception of timely and effective action. The FCA therefore considers it is in the public interest for matters to settle, and settle early, if possible.
1The possibility of settlement does not, however, change the fact that enforcement action is one of the tools available to the FCA to secure our statutory objectives. The FCA seeks to change the behaviour not only of those subject to the immediate action, but also of others who will be alerted to our concerns in a particular area. There is no distinction here between action taken following agreement with the subject of the enforcement action and action resisted by a firm before
1Settlements in the FCA context are not the same as ‘out of court’ settlements in the commercial context. An FCA settlement is a regulatory decision, taken by the FCA, the terms of which are accepted by the firm or individual concerned. So, when agreeing the terms of a settlement, the FCA will carefully consider its statutory objectives and other relevant matters such as the importance of sending clear, consistent messages through enforcement action, and will only settle in appropriate
1In recognition of the value of early settlement, the FCA operates a scheme to award a discount2 for early settlement of cases involving financial penalties, suspensions, restrictions and disciplinary prohibitions2. Details of the scheme, which applies only to settlement of cases where investigators were appointed on or after 20 October 2005, are set out in DEPP 6.7. This chapter provides some commentary on certain practical aspects of the operation of the scheme.
Some decisions2 on settlements and statutory notices arising from them are taken by two members of the FCA's senior management, rather than by the RDC (DEPP refers to these individuals as the 'settlement decision makers'). Full details of the special decision making arrangements for settlements are set out in DEPP 5. 1
1Enforcement cases often involve multiple parties, for example a firm and individuals in the firm. Enforcement action may be appropriate against just the firm, just the individuals or both. In some cases, it will not be possible to reach an acceptable settlement unless all parties are able to reach agreement.
1Even where action is not taken against connected parties, these parties may have what the Act calls ‘third party rights’. Broadly, if any of the reasons contained in a warning notice or decision notice identifies a person (the third party) other than the person to whom the notice is given, and in the opinion of the FCA is prejudicial to the third party, a copy of the notice must be given to the third party unless that person receives a separate warning notice or decision notice
1Decisions recorded in FCAfinal notices or supervisory notices will be taken into account in any subsequent case if the later case raises the same or similar issues to those considered by the FCA when it reached its earlier decision. Not to do so would expose the FCA to accusations of arbitrary and inconsistent decision-making. The need to look at earlier cases applies irrespective of whether the decisions were reached following settlement or consideration by the RDC or the Tribunal.
1The FCA recognises the importance of consistency in its decision-making and that it must consider the approach previously taken to, say, the application of a particular rule or Principle in a given context. This applies equally to consideration by the RDC or by the settlement decision makers when they look at action taken by the FCA in earlier, similar, cases. This is not to say that the FCA cannot take a different view to that taken in the earlier case: the facts of two enforcement
As set out in DEPP 5, special decision-making arrangements apply in relation to settlement. The person concerned may agree all relevant issues with the FCA (in which case the settlement decision makers will give all relevant statutory notices). Alternatively, a focused resolution agreement may be agreed (in which case the settlement decision makers are responsible for giving the warning notice and the RDC for giving any decision notice).2 The FCA would expect to hold any settlement
1If the settlement negotiations result in a proposed settlement of the dispute, FCA staff will put the terms of the proposed settlement in writing and agree them with the person concerned. The settlement decision makers (and, as the case may be, the RDC)2 will then consider the matter2 under the procedures set out in DEPP 5. A settlement is2 likely to result in the giving of statutory notices (see EG 2.15.1 to EG 2.15.32).
(1) Firms may use the following wording, or alternative wording which has substantively the same meaning, in any settlement agreement:“For the avoidance of doubt, nothing precludes [name of worker] from making a “protected disclosure” within the meaning of Part 4A (Protected Disclosures) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. This includes protected disclosures made about matters previously disclosed to another recipient.”(2) Compliance with (1) may be relied on as tending to establish
Decisions on whether to give a statutory notice will be taken by a 'decision maker'. The FCA's2 assessment of who is the appropriate decision maker is subject to the requirements of section 395 of the Act and will depend upon the nature of the decision, including its complexity, importance and urgency. References to the 'decision maker' in DEPP are to:2(1) the Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC); or(2) FCA2 staff under executive procedures; or2(3) FCA2 staff under the settlement
DEPP 2 to DEPP 5 set out:(1) which decisions require the giving of statutory notices and who takes them (DEPP 2);(2) the nature and procedures of the RDC (DEPP 3);(3) the procedure for decision making by FCA2 staff under executive procedures (DEPP 4);2(4) the procedure for decision making by FCA2 staff under the settlement decision procedure (DEPP 5).2
23One of the reasons for introducing the guidance in this appendix is to seek a reduction in the number of complaints which are referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service. If a firm writes to the complainant proposing terms for settlement which are in accordance with this appendix, the letter may include a statement that the calculation of loss and redress accords with the FCAguidance, but should not imply that this extends to the assessment of whether or not the complaint should
1Before a case is referred to the RDC, it will be subject to a legal review by a lawyer who has not been a part of the investigation team. This will help to ensure that there is consistency in the way in which our cases are put and that they are supported by sufficient evidence. A lawyer who has not been a part of the investigation team will also review warning notices before they are submitted to the settlement decision makers.
1The FCA is committed to mediating appropriate cases; mediation and the involvement of a neutral mediator may help the FCA to reach an agreement with the person subject to enforcement action in circumstances where settlement might not otherwise be achieved or may not be achieved so efficiently and effectively.
1The procedures the FCA will follow when giving supervisory notices, warning notices and decision notices are set out in DEPP 1 to 5. Under these procedures, the decisions to issue such notices in contested enforcement cases are generally taken by the RDC, an FCA Board committee that is appointed by, and accountable to, the FCA Board for its decisions generally. Further details about the RDC can be found in DEPP 3 and on the pages of the FCA web site relating to the RDC. However,
2Both the FCA and the PRA will seek to ensure that, as far as possible, their respective processes (whether for contested or settlement decision-making) occur in a coordinated and timely manner in a joint investigation. For example, the regulators will, where appropriate, endeavour to settle a joint investigation into a relevant firm or individual simultaneously.
The chairman of the relevant meeting will ensure that the meeting is conducted so as to enable:(1) the recipient of the warning notice or first supervisory notice to make representations;(2) the relevant FCA1 staff to respond to those representations;1(3) the RDC members to raise with those present any points or questions about the matter (whether in response to particular representations or more generally about the matter); and(4) the recipient of the notice to respond to points
As with cases under the Act, the FCA may settle or mediate appropriate cases involving breaches of the Small and Medium Sized Business (Finance Platforms) Regulations to assist it to exercise its functions. DEPP 5, DEPP 6.7 and EG 5 set out information on the FCA’s settlement process and the settlement discount scheme.
1As with cases under the Act, the FCA may settle or mediate appropriate cases involving civil breaches of the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulations to assist it exercise its functions under the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulations in the most efficient and economic way. [Note: See DEPP 5, DEPP 6.7 and EG 5 for further information on the settlement process and the settlement discount scheme.]
1As with cases under the Act, the FCA may settle or mediate appropriate cases involving non-criminal breaches of the MiFI Regulations to assist us to exercise our functions under the MiFI Regulations in the most efficient and economic way. See DEPP 5, DEPP 6.7 and EG 5 for further information on the settlement process and the settlement discount scheme.