Support for Bill giving a year to pay fines
OPPOSITION PARTIES and campaign groups have conditionally welcomed the publication of a Bill which will allow people to pay fines by instalments over a 12-month period.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the Fines (Amendment) Bill will “all but eliminate” the need to commit anyone to prison for the non-payment of fines. In 2011 7,514 people were committed to prison for defaulting on court-imposed fines.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins broadly welcomed the Bill but said it was a “half-baked proposal with no regard for people’s privacy and their right to manage their own personal affairs”.
Under the proposals, where a person fails to pay a fine over 12 months, a court can make an attachment of earnings order compelling the defaulter’s employer to deduct the value of the fine from their earnings. Alternatively the court may appoint a receiver to recover assets to the value of the fine or order the defaulter to do community service.
The provision for attachment of earnings orders will enable the State to collect contentious fines. A Department of Justice spokesman said the measure “will apply to all fines, including fines imposed in relation to the household charge.”
Paul Joyce, a senior researcher with the Free Legal Advice Centre, said about a 10 per cent “administration charge” was to be levied on those who pay in instalments. The department said the charge covered administration and IT costs.