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- Written by James Ruteere
- Created: Tuesday, 05 March 2019
Penalty and fee units are used in legislation to describe the amount of a fine or a fee.
In the state of Victoria in Australia, penalty units are used to define the amount payable for fines for many offences. For example, the fine for selling a tobacco product to a person aged under 18 is four penalty units. One penalty unit is currently $161.19 from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. The rate for penalty units is indexed each financial year so that it is raised in line with inflation. Any change to the value of a penalty unit will happen on 1 July each year.
Likewise, fee units are used to calculate the cost of a certificate, registration or licence that is set out in an Act or Regulation. For example, the cost of depositing a Will with the supreme court registrar of probates is 1.6 fee units. The value of one fee unit is currently $14.45. This value may increase at the beginning of a financial year, at the same time as penalty units.
The cost of fees and penalties is calculated by multiplying the number of units by the current value of the fee or unit. The upward or downward variation of fees payable for different services across different pieces of legislation is effected through a single amendment to one piece of legislation.
In Uganda, following the hyper-inflation experienced in the 1980’s, the Currency Reform Statute, 1987 which was part of an economic restoration strategy of the National Resistance Movement Government had the unprecedented effect of reducing pecuniary penalties to such stifling sums that a re-think was ordered. It also terribly failed to curb inflation .
The Uganda Law Reform Commission and the Judiciary then devised the currency points system that was in the wake of continued inflation and other factors, able to ensure that a sound co-relation between pecuniary penalties, inflation and periods of incarceration are maintained across different pieces of legislation, and effected through a single amendment. The currency points system has also provided some sort of foundational guidance to policy formulators and drafters on how to “measure” penal provisions in legislation.