Standard scale

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The standard scale is a system whereby financial criminal penalties (fines) in legislation have maximum levels set against a standard scale. Then, when inflation makes it necessary to increase the levels of the fines the legislators need to modify only the scale rather than every individual piece of legislation.

In English law, the reference in legislation will typically appear as:

... liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or both.

Legislation and level of fines[edit]


Channel Islands[edit]



Guernsey uses the UK standard scale for adopted UK legislation, and its own scale (called the uniform scale) for legislation originating in the States of Guernsey.

Guernsey's dependencies of Alderney and Sark have their own distinct scales, although these are generally in line with the Guernsey scale.



  • The Uniform Scale of Fines (Alderney) Law 1989 as amended by The Uniform Scale of Fines (Alderney) (Amendment) Ordinance 2007.


Sark Sark has its own standard scale, which is normally maintained at the same levels as Guernsey's.

  • The Uniform Scale of Fines (Sark) Law, 1989 as amended by the Uniform Scale of Fines (Sark) (Amendment) Ordinance, 1992, the Uniform Scale of Fines (Sark) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004, and the Uniform Scale of Fines (Sark) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2006.

Isle of Man[edit]

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man uses the UK standard scale, but only in respect of Acts of Parliament that extend to the Isle of Man. It does not apply to Acts of Tynwald, which instead include specified amounts within the legislation.

  • Criminal Justice Act 1982 (An Act of Parliament) as extended to the Island by the Criminal Justice Act 1982 (Isle of Man) Order 1983, and amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1982 (Isle of Man) Order 1992.[1]



Jersey standard scale
Level on the scale Maximum fine
1 £50
2 £500
3 £2,000
4 £5,500

Above amounts as of 2005.

United Kingdom[edit]

Schedule 1 to the Interpretation Act 1978[2] defines "the standard scale" for each United Kingdom jurisdiction with reference to the following statutes.

The "statutory maximum", which is the maximum fine which can be imposed by a summary court for a triable either way statutory offence, is similarly defined by the Interpretation Act 1978 so as to correspond to the "prescribed sum" (in effect to the maximum (level 5) fine on the standard scale, except in Scotland).

England and Wales[edit]

England Wales


Scotland The setting of the levels of the standard scale of fines in Scotland is a matter devolved to the Scottish Government.

With effect from 10 December 2007, the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 increased the "prescribed sum", and with it the "statutory maximum" from £5,000 to £10,000. The level of fines on the standard scale was unaltered.[6]

Northern Ireland[edit]


 UK standard scale
Scale level Maximum fine
1 £200
2 £500
3 £1,000
4 £2,500
5 Unlimited

The above amounts apply with respect to offences committed on or after the following dates:

  • in England and Wales and in Scotland, 1 October 1992 (by virtue of Criminal Justice Act 1991 (Commencement No 3) Order 1992)[9]
  • in Northern Ireland, 9 January 1995 (by virtue of Criminal Justice (1994 Order) (Commencement) Order (Northern Ireland) 1994.[10]

The United Kingdom standard scale was extended in respect of certain offences to two Crown dependencies:

  • the Isle of Man, with effect from 1 December 1992 (by virtue of Criminal Justice Act 1982 (Isle of Man) Order 1992).[11]
  • Guernsey, with effect from 1 February 1993 (by virtue of Criminal Justice Act 1982 (Guernsey) Order 1992.)[12]

Before March 2015, the level 5 limit was £5,000. This limit was removed by section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.[13] The level 1–4 limits were unaffected.

Between 1984 and 1992, the standard scale in England and Wales was as follows:

Scale between 1984 and 1992
Level on the scale Maximum fine
1 £50
2 £100
3 £400
4 £1,000
5 £2,000

Hong Kong[edit]

Hong Kong

Fines specified in prior legislation were converted to points on the standard scale by section 113C.

Hong Kong standard scale
Level on the scale Maximum fine
1 HK$2,000
2 $5,000
3 $10,000
4 $25,000
5 $50,000
6 $100,000



Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  • United Kingdom Ormerod, David; Hooper, Rt Hon Lord Justice (2009). Blackstone's Criminal Practice 2010. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-957424-7.