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New Act on Petty Offenses

Czech Republic: A new legal framework for the administrative-law liability of natural persons, legal entities, and individual entrepreneurs

Effective as of 1 July 2017, the new Act on Petty Offenses will establish a uniform legal basis for the administrative-law liability of natural persons, legal entities, and individual entrepreneurs, including rules for the enforcement of this liability.

The existing legal framework for administrative-law liability is extremely complicated and difficult to navigate. Administrative offenses are divided into 'infractions' (přestupky) and 'other administrative offenses', whereas only those unlawful acts which are expressly referred to by law as 'infraction' constitute an infraction – and these can only be committed by a natural person (in their capacity as a private individual, as opposed to an entrepreneur). The legal framework for infractions currently resides primarily in the Act on Infractions (Act No. 200/1990 Coll.). Aside from infractions proper, there exists the large and variegated category of what is known as 'other administrative offenses', which includes 'other unlawful acts by natural persons' (i.e., as opposed to those labeled infractions), 'unlawful acts by legal entities', and 'unlawful acts by individual entrepreneurs'. These other administrative offenses are defined in dozens of special laws, and the current Act on Infractions does not apply to them. In other words, these other administrative offenses lack a general legal framework – a shortcoming which will now be remedied by the new Act on Petty Offenses. The new Act on Petty Offenses harmonizes the rules governing the liability for administrative offenses committed by natural persons (both private individuals and entrepreneurs) and legal entities.

The new definition of 'infraction' thus includes (aside from the previous infractions by natural persons) other administrative offenses committed by natural persons, legal entities, and individual entrepreneurs. This may be considered the greatest benefit of the recodification of the law on petty offenses. The new Act on Petty Offenses stipulates in a comprehensive manner the basics and criteria of the liability for petty offenses, the categories of penalties, and the rules for imposing them (including rules of procedure). The elements of what constitutes individual types of infractions will continue to be set out in the sanctioning provisions of special laws for the exercise of government authority in individual areas of public administration. The rationale behind this has to do with the fact that an infraction will usually involve the violation of duties set out in those special laws. Aside from special laws, some infractions of relevance for various areas of public administration are addressed by the 'Act on certain infractions' (Act No. 251/2016 Coll.), which was passed along with the new Act on Petty Offenses.

Source: Act No. 250/2016 Coll., on the liability for petty offenses and proceedings on the same