Article by Eamonn Fleming
The Fines Act of 2004 which came into force in January 2016 allows a person who has been fined in court to pay that fine by instalment via the Post Office . It applies to all fines greater than €100.00 and in effect you can spread your instalments out over a 13 month period.
10% of the fine must be paid within 6 weeks of the court date and then you can pay the remainder by 12 separate monthly instalments of 7.5% of the fine in each instalment. The Act provides for a separate administration fee (on top of the fine) if the fines are paid by instalments although this administration fee has not yet been fixed it cannot be more than 10% of the fine imposed.
The following example might be helpful;
Let’s say at Bandon District Court you were fined €500.00 on the 1st of February 2016. 10% of this fine (€50.00) must be paid within 6 weeks of the court date.
The remaining €450.00 of the fine can then be paid by 12 separate monthly instalments of €37.50 per month (each instalment is the equivalent of 7.5% of the fine). On top of this then the administration fee (maximum €50.00 in this case) must also be paid.
Total sum to be paid therefore is €550.00, total time to pay 13 ½ months (58 weeks) and the full amount must be paid by the 15th of March 2017.
The Act goes on to say that if fines are not paid the matter can come back into court and on notice to the person who has not paid the fine the court can make a Recovery Order (effectively appointing a appointed court officer to seize property belonging to the person who has not paid the fine) (this only applies in the case of a fine greater than €500.00).
The court can likewise make an order directed to the employer of the person fined that the fine is to be paid out of weekly wages or alternatively can make a Community Service Order which orders the person to do community service work instead of paying the fine.
When all else fails a court can still make an Order committing somebody to prison for failing to pay fines but it is envisaged that this is now going become a very exceptional situation.