A person who owes court fines is treated in a similar way to an ordinary debtor. The Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit manages the collection of fines and court costs. The Chief Recovery Officer of that Unit has various enforcement powers in relation to these types of debts. The Unit can recover and take enforcement action against debtors in relation to pecuniary debts (court issued fines, compensation, victim of crime levies, etc) and expiation notices (fines).
In order to avoid additional costs associated with late payment of fines and court debts a debtor must either:
- Pay in full by the due date; or
- Negotiate payment by instalments (or reach another payment agreement) with the Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit prior to the due date on the notice.
If a debtor is unable to meet the suggested instalment plan, they can seek an extension of time to pay or vary the period for payments by instalment (over up to 12 months) after payment of a prescribed fee ($19.10 *) [Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017 (SA) s 15].
If they fail to pay a court fine within 28 days of the date it was imposed by the court, a fee of $99 * will be added to the amount owing.
If they fail to pay the court fine within a further 30 days of it becoming due, an additional fee of $180 * will be added to the amount owing (in addition to the $99 that would have already been added).
A reminder notice will be issued after 28 days has passed of the court fine becoming due. A fee of $53.20 * applies for the issuing of the reminder notice, and this amount is added onto the total amount owing.
See Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Regulations 2018 (SA) regulation 6 and Schedule 2 (3).
*Fees current as of 30 April 2018.
In addition to an extension of time or payment by instalments there are other arrangements available under the Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017 (SA) section 15(5) which include:
- (a) payment by instalments (including instalments paid over a period exceeding 12 months);
- (b) an extension of time to pay;
- (c) the taking of a charge over land;
- (d) the surrender of property to the Chief Recovery Officer;
- (e) payment of any amount, including by direct credit, by or through some other person or agency (eg deductions from an ADI account or wages);
- (f) the performance of community service;
- (g) attendance at a treatment program;
- (h) any other form of arrangement agreed by the Chief Recovery Officer and the debtor
A fee is payable to enter into one of these arrangements and is usually required to be paid before entering into the arrangement. However, the fee can also be added to the debt owed, or can in some circumstances be waived [see ss 15(2) and 15(3)].
Non-payment of fines
If a debtor has previously been subject to an enforcement action (if they previously have not paid fines within the time period) or if they are an undischarged bankrupt, the Chief Recovery Officer may refuse to make arrangements to pay by instalments or other alternative methods of repayment [Fines Enforcement and Debt Recovery Act 2017 (SA) s 15(8)]. When the debtor cannot make an arrangement with the Chief Recovery Officer, or in cases of non compliance with an existing arrangement, the Chief Recovery Officer has wide ranging powers to enforce the debt, including:
- seizure and sale of assets [s 36];
- garnishing of wages or bank accounts [s 37];
- suspension of driver’s licence [s 38];
- restriction on transacting business with the Registrar of Motor Vehicles ( no applications made by a debtor for renewal of licence or payment of registration will be processed until the fine is paid) [s 39];
- clamping or impounding of motor vehicle [s 41];
- dispose of vehicle seized under s 41 if uncollected [s 42];
- seizure of number plates of motor vehicle [s 43];
- publication of names of debtors subject to enforcement action [s 44].
The Chief Recovery Officer also has the ability to seek orders requiring the debtor to undertake community service [s 46(1)(a)] or requiring the participation in a treatment program [s 46(1)(b)], where the above enforcement options are unsuccessful or inappropriate.
Where the Chief Recovery Officer has seized the number plates of a motor vehicle as part of an enforcement process, the number plates are forwarded to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles who can subsequently cancel the vehicle registration [see s 61A of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 (SA)].
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.