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Fine Defaulters

Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on the (a) maximum and (b) minimum penalties for non-payment of financial penalties imposed by magistrates' courts. [99874]

When a defaulter is brought before the court, the magistrates will have a number of enforcement options available to them. The sanctions to ensure the payment of fines include an attachment of earnings order if the defendant is in employment or deductions from social security benefits if they are not working. The maximum amount that can be deducted from an unemployed person is £2.70 per week. Other options include the issue of a distress warrant, (which empowers the person executing it to seize a person's goods or money to the value of the sum owed), or as a last resort, the court may decide to commit the defaulter to prison. The Courts Bill currently before Parliament proposes a number of new arrangements to facilitate the enforcement of fines, including new penalties such as clamping vehicles and entering the fine in the Register of county court judgments.