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Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Section 23: Vehicle seizure order

This Section defines a vehicle seizure order, namely that a debtor’s vehicle may be seized in order to secure payment of the sum due. The vehicle may be sold, scrapped or otherwise disposed of and any proceeds of sale are to be used to pay the outstanding amount (Section 23(1)).  Only police officers or a person authorised by the Department of Justice may seize a vehicle (Section 23(2)).

When the collection officer makes a referral to the court under Section 6(6) to request a vehicle seizure order, he must attend at the hearing in order to give any evidence that the court may require (Section 23(3)).

The Section provides that the court, in satisfying itself that a seizure order is justified, reasonable and proportionate, must take into account the impact of a vehicle seizure order on the debtor’s ability to earn a living (Section 23(4))

This Section provides for certain vehicles which cannot be made the subject of a vehicle seizure order. These vehicles are those which have a disabled person’s badge on display, those used for the carriage of a disabled person, those which are used by the police, ambulance, fire and rescue services, and those used by medical practitioners on call (Section 23(5)).

The Section allows for regulations to specify what a collection officer must take into account before making a request for this order, details around the sale of the vehicle, the removal, securing and storage of the vehicle, the release of the vehicle and the protected interests of any innocent third parties in the vehicle (Section 23(7)).

The Section makes provision for further detail to be included in regulations relating to the release of the vehicle and in particular to include a condition requiring the payment of charges (Section 23(8)).

The Section makes provision for the application of the vehicle seizure order to transitional cases which were already in the criminal justice system before the legislation comes into effect.  Vehicle seizure orders will be available for those not yet sentenced (Section 23(9)). In cases where a debtor has already defaulted on a sum, a vehicle seizure 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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