218. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if legislation will be introduced to allow for unpaid court fines to be recouped from the income of the person fined regardless of the source of the income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10269/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014, which was commenced in January 2016, represented major reform of the fine payment and recovery system in the State and implemented a Government commitment to provide for attachment of earnings orders for the collection of fines. The new system seeks to ensure that fines imposed are collected and also to reduce to a minimum the number of people committed to prison for non-payment of fines.
Under the new system there is flexibility for the payment of fines and there is no automatic imposition of a custodial sentence in default of payment of a fine. Key features of the new fine payment and recovery system, as provided for in the 2014 legislation, are as follows:
- When setting the level of the fine the court is obliged to consider the person's financial circumstances;
- Those on whom a fine of over €100 is imposed can opt to pay the fine by instalments over a period of 12 months;
- Where a person fails to pay a fine, the court may make an attachment order in respect of work earnings or an occupational pension, a recovery order in respect of personal property, or a community service order;
- The employer to whom an attachment order is directed is obliged to comply with the terms of the order and make the necessary deductions from the wages or pension of the person concerned. Failure to comply with an attachment order can result in a fine of up to €5,000 or a term of up to 12 months in prison, or both.
- Where an attachment order or recovery order is made but the fine or a portion of it remains outstanding, the court may make a community service order;
- Where a community service order is not complied with, the court may commit the person concerned to prison for a specified period commensurate with the amount of the fine outstanding.