Pay reparation or it's back to court

Thursday 2 August 2012, 3:05PM
By Chester Borrows

Starting today, the next big changes from the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill will reinforce the collection of reparations, and will allow people to contest fines over the internet rather than at the court counter, says Courts Minister Chester Borrows.

“Reparation payments are an effective form of punishment but sometimes reparations orders are made after unreasonable promises to pay, are simply never paid, or take so long to pay the order is worthless. Today’s changes will address this,” says Mr Borrows.

“From now, a judge can cancel an order for reparation and replace it with another sentence the offender could have received if they had not made the offer to pay. This could include imprisonment or home detention.”

Today also sees the start of the ability to dispute a fine online, as well as in person or by post.

“Until now, if someone wanted to dispute a fine they had to go to their local court and file a paper application or submit their application by post, something done around 32,000 times last year.

“We no longer pay our bills, book our flights, or get our mail in the same way we did 10 or 20 years ago. New Zealanders expect the convenience that the internet offers, and this is another small step in my drive to make sure the courts meet that expectation,” says Mr Borrows.

Today’s changes take effect as part of the Court and Criminal Matters Bill, which enhances the court’s powers to collect fines and reparation. Other measures already in force include credit reporting for people who refuse to pay their fines, with further powers coming into force next year.