Court-imposed fines payable in instalments at post offices
People not paying fines will not be jailed except as an absolute last resort
As a result of an overhaul of the rules which has now come into effect, those who do not pay fines will not be jailed except as an absolute last resort. File photograph: Getty Images
From later this week people will be able to pay court-imposed fines in instalments in their local post office after the Courts Service awarded the contract to oversee payment of fines to An Post.
The payment of fines can already be made online, over the phone with credit or debit cards, directly with a court officer and by post.
From Tuesday, people will also be able to pay fines in stages in their local post office - as an alternative to the other, once-off payment methods already in place.
As a result of an overhaul of the rules which has now come into effect, those who do not pay fines will not be jailed except as an absolute last resort.
Instead, fines can be deducted from a person’s earnings in instalments, with the court appointing a receiver to recover the money owed. If fines remain unpaid, courts can impose community service orders in their place.
Only when such orders are not honoured will people face jail under provisions contained within the new Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014, which is now law.
“The Act provides an appropriate response to the problems of the refusal or failure of some people to pay fines and the inappropriateness of imprisonment as the automatic response where this happens,” Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said. “We now have a system that is logical and proportionate.”
The Courts Service also announced that An Post subsidiary, PrintPost, will now print fine notices and reminders.
“Fines are the most widely used sanction in our legal system. The methods of payment of a fine need to be as simple and convenient as possible, with no obstacles being in the way of people paying monies due to the State,” a spokesman for the Courts Service said.
He said “staged payments, or instalments, will help a person to meet their obligations, and be facilitated in post offices nationwide from Friday of this week. This will make it as convenient and easy as possible to pay court imposed fines.”
In 2014 the Courts Service collected over €13 million in fines.