Fees, costs and fines
Part 9: Operation of collection orders after increase imposed
303.Part 9 deals with the operation of collection orders after an increase in the fine has been imposed as a result of the offender going into default.
304.Paragraph 35 explains what should happen if the offender contacts the fines officer as required by an increase notice issued under Paragraphs 28 or 34 of the Schedule.
305.The fines officer may decide whether or not to vary the payment terms (or reserve terms) in the offender's favour. The new terms cover the sum due, plus the increase that has been imposed. The fines officer's decision must be in writing, dated and delivered to the offender.
306.The offender has the right to appeal to the magistrates' court against the fines officer's decision. The appeal must be lodged within 10 working days of the date of the decision.
307.The offender will be warned that the increase will stand and further enforcement steps will be taken unless he sticks to these new terms. Provided the offender co-operates and makes arrangements leading to full payment of the sums due, without further default, he does not have to pay the increase.
308.Paragraph 36 stipulates that following a variation in payment terms (or reserve terms) the offender may at any time apply to the fines officer for a further variation, provided:
he is not in default on the collection order;
he is not subject to a 'further steps' notice under paragraph 37; and
there has been a material change in circumstances sine the last variation was made; or
he has provided more information about his circumstances.
On application, the fines officer may decide whether or not to vary the payment terms (or reserve terms) in the offender's favour. The fines officer's decision must be in writing, dated and delivered to the offender.
309.The offender has the right of appeal to the magistrates' court against the fines officer's decision. The appeal must be lodged within 10 working days of the date of the decision.
310.Paragraph 37 sets out what should happen if:
the offender fails to contact the fines officer as required by an increase notice issued under Paragraph 28 or 34 of the Schedule; or
if the offender does contact the fines officer, but the fines officer decides not to vary terms and the offender does not appeal against the decision.
311.The paragraph also applies if, after the increase is imposed and payment terms have been varied to accommodate this, the offender again defaults and provided:
no appeal is outstanding;
no application for a further variation in terms is outstanding; and
the fines officer has not referred the case back to the court.
312.Under these circumstances, the fines officer must either refer the case to the magistrates' court, or issue a notice (a 'further steps notice') stating that he intends to take one or more of the enforcement measures set out in Paragraph 38 of the Schedule.
313.The notice must be in writing and dated, and must specify the steps that are to be taken. The offender has 10 working days from the date of the notice in which to lodge an appeal against it to the magistrates' court.
314.Paragraph 38 sets out the range of further steps available against defaulters. These are:
issuing a distress warrant;
registering the sum in the register of judgments set up under the Act (and so potentially affecting the defaulter' s credit rating);
making an AOE order or DFB application ;
making a clamping order (i.e. immobilising a vehicle registered in the offender's name);
taking any other step that may be permitted under the fines collection regulations.
315.Paragraph 39 deals with the powers of the magistrates' court after an increase has been imposed, when hearing:
an appeal against the fines officer's decision about variations following an increase;
a referral of the case by the fines officer to the court;
an appeal against a further steps notice.
If the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances, and the sum due is paid without the offender again defaulting, it may make an order waiving the increase.
316.The court may also vary or quash any decision made by the fines officer, take any of the further steps listed in paragraph 38 of the Schedule, or discharge the collection order and deal with the case itself using any of its standard powers. These are defined in paragraph 50 of the Schedule as being any power which a magistrates' court would have had if a collection order had not been made, and any power given to the court by virtue of the fines collection regulations made under this Schedule.
317.Paragraph 40 stipulates that if the offender does not appeal against a further steps notice, or if his appeal fails, any step specified in the notice may be taken.
318.Paragraph 41 provides the power for the court to order a vehicle that has been clamped and held in accordance with a clamping order to be sold. This gives the court the opportunity to decide whether the sale of the vehicle is proportionate to the amount of the fine outstanding, taking into consideration the history of the case.
319.Paragraph 42 provides that a fines officer may refer a case to the magistrates' court at any time before the fine is paid in full. It enables the court to deal with cases where there may be exceptional or mitigating circumstances, which the fines officer does not have the powers to deal with appropriately. For example, where an offender has no means with which to pay the fine (and where an order making the offender subject to fines payment work under Schedule 6: Discharge of Fines by Unpaid Work may be appropriate), or where an offender is not co-operating with the fines officer. The fines officer may also issue a summons requiring the offender to attend court.