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Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Section 20: Interim bank account order

An interim bank account order requires a deposit-taker with which a debtor has an account to freeze the sum specified in the order in the account and to not reduce the credit balance below that amount. If the credit balance is already below the sum specified in the order, then it must not be reduced any further (Section 20(1)).

Where the debtor instructs that the money from the account should be released in order to pay the sum due to the court, the deposit taker must allow the release of those funds for that purpose, unless there are exceptional circumstances (Section 20(2)).

When the court receives payment of the full amount, the collection officer must discharge the interim bank account order and inform the court and the deposit-taker (Section 20(3)).

Where such notice is received, the court will dismiss the referral to court for hearing of the matter if the full sum owing has been paid, but where the full sum has not been paid, the matter will proceed to hearing and the court will have the options from Section 9 open to it to recoup the outstanding amount (Section 20(4)).

The Section provides a regulation making power in order, in particular, to make further provisions about requesting information from the deposit-taker, the contents of the interim order, service and administrative charges (Section 20(6)).

Failure to provide information when requested by a collection officer or to provide false information is an offence under Sections 20(7) and (8), which can attract a penalty of up to £500 (as provided by Section 24 by way of a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale).

The Section makes provision for the application of the interim bank account order to transitional cases which were already in the criminal justice system before the legislation comes into effect.  Interim bank account orders will be available for those who are not yet sentenced (Section 20(9)). In cases where a debtor has already defaulted on a sum, an interim bank account order will not be available (Section 3(7)(b)).

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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