In many areas of life, the state enforces the law through sanctions imposed by administrative agencies without prior judicial involvement. Such sanctions can take many forms, most notably fines, but also for example the confiscation of assets, restrictions on or the complete withdrawal of professional licences, debarment from public tenders, or even publically naming and shaming people or companies by blacklisting them. Administrative sanctions can apply to very broad sectors of public life, as seen in the example of the enforcement of road traffic rules, but also to narrower, more specialised areas, in particular the enforcement of economic regulation by supervisory authorities like financial market regulators or consumer protection supervisors. While administrative sanctions can in many cases overlap with the criminal law, the present pair of chapters has demonstrated that they do in fact constitute a distinct category of enforcement in that they differ in fundamental ways from the imposition of sanctions by criminal courts following a trial. Given these differences, administrative sanctions, by implication, provide important insights into the nature of the criminal process. In addition, administrative sanctions highlight questions about the legitimacy of sanctions being imposed by the executive, especially how far the state may have recourse to administrative sanctions as opposed to criminal enforcement.
WHAT THE LIMITS ARE LIMITING
As the present pair of chapters shows, a major difference between the two jurisdictions appears at the level of the substantive law, in that only Germany recognises administrative sanctions as an independent category of sanctions and keeps them strictly outside the criminal law. In contrast to the situation under English law, but very much in line with the general approach in German law of focusing primarily on substance and only to a lesser extent on procedure, the categorisation is thus dependent on the formal classification of an offence, not on who imposes the sanctions. On closer inspection, the substantive dichotomy in German law reflects the German understanding that criminal and administrative sanctions serve categorically different purposes.
Unlike English law, German law differentiates between criminal offences and regulatory offences, and allows for the imposition of sanctions by administrative agencies only in the case of regulatory offences. Sieber demonstrates that this non-criminal category of offences does not preclude the imposition of sometimes very heavy fines, especially for serious economic wrongdoing.