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Courts Act 2003

Fees, costs and fines

Part 3: Attachment of Earnings Orders and applications for benefit deductions

261.Paragraph 7 stipulates that Part 3 of the Schedule applies if the sum due is not paid immediately, i.e. if the court decides that the offender should be allowed time to pay, or if the offender was required to pay immediately but failed to do so.

262.It defines 'the relevant court' as being the court that imposed the liability to pay the sum due, or if the offender was required to pay immediately but failed to do so, the magistrates' court responsible for the enforcement. Fines may be imposed by a magistrates' court or by the Crown Court, but responsibility for enforcement falls solely to the magistrates' courts.

263.Paragraph 8 applies if the court finds that the offender is an existing defaulter who can show no good reason for being in default. In such cases, and provided it is not impracticable or inappropriate to do so, the court must either:

  • immediately make an AOE order if the offender is employed, or

  • immediately apply to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for a DFB

If it appears to the court that it would be possible to attach earnings or make a DFB, it must do one or the other, but not both.

264.Paragraph 9 enables the court to make an AOE or DFB application, with the offender's consent, provided he is not an existing defaulter (if he is an existing defaulter, the attachment is imposed automatically, by virtue of paragraph 8). Under current legislation, while an offender can ask for an AOE to be made, he is unable to volunteer for DFBs.

265.Paragraph 10 defines 'relevant benefit' as being income support or jobseekers allowance, and ' applications for benefit deductions' as being an application to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

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