A new advertising campaign that hits television screens on Sunday highlights new consequences for people that refuse to pay fines and reparation, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.
The 15-second television commercial is part of the Ministry of Justice’s “Pay your fines, or pay the price” campaign and is timed to coincide with the first provisions of the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill coming into force on February 13.
“The message in the ad is clear - unpaid fines may stop you from getting the things you want on credit,” Minister Borrows said.
The message refers to a provision in the bill that allows the Ministry of Justice to release the amount of a person’s overdue penalties to approved credit reporting agencies, and for credit reporting agencies to provide contact details of debtors to the Ministry to use to enforce payment.
Minister Borrows stressed that the bill was targeting people who had no intention of paying up. “We’ve made huge strides in recent years in collecting fines and reparation, but too many offenders think they can avoid paying their fines or making good on reparation to victims of their crimes,” he said.
“It’s critical to the credibility of the justice system that monetary penalties are effective sanctions, so we’re sending a clear message that there will be repercussions for those who don’t honour their responsibilities.
“People who owe fines and reparation but have talked to the Ministry to make sustainable arrangements for repayment have nothing to be concerned about.”
The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill amends 20 statutes and is the most comprehensive review of legislation governing the enforcement of fines in more than a decade. Other measures will come into force next year, including the ability to suspend driver’s licences of people with unpaid traffic-related fines.
The bill also makes it easier for people or firms who are owed money to obtain attachment orders from the courts allowing mandatory deductions from the wages or benefit payments of their debtors.
Courts will also soon be able to re-sentence an offender to prison or home detention if the reparation they have been ordered to pay proves to be unenforceable or unaffordable, provided these sentences were available at the time of the original sentencing.