New enforcement tools to improve collection of fines

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Having overdue fines and reparation may soon impact people’s ability to get credit as the government approves the implementation of the Credit Check of Fines initiative, Minister for Courts Georgina te Heuheu announced today. The initiative allows credit … Hon Georgina te Heuheu
Minister for Courts

31 October 2011

New enforcement tools to improve collection of fines

Having overdue fines and reparation may soon impact people’s ability to get credit as the government approves the implementation of the Credit Check of Fines initiative, Minister for Courts Georgina te Heuheu announced today.

The initiative allows credit agencies, such as hire purchase providers and banks, access to information about overdue fines and reparation that they can then take into account when making credit and lending decisions. It was enabled by the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, which was passed in July this year.

“This is the first major initiative from the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill to strengthen enforcement measures for overdue fines or reparation, and to improve and simplify collection and enforcement services,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

“The initiative comes into force on 13 February 2012 and is a key part of the Government’s determination to strengthen the credibility of fines and reparation as a sanction and hold offenders to account for their actions.”

“It will apply to the more than 240,000 people owing fines and reparation if they apply for credit or a loan. The amount they owe is around $300 million.

“Until now, having overdue fines and reparation owing did not affect people’s ability to obtain credit,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

“The courts’ enforcement powers only apply to people avoiding responsibility for their fines and reparation.”

“The regulations making overdue fines part of a credit check will not come into force until 13 February 2012, so this leaves people with plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements,” she says.

“To avoid having their overdue fines or reparation reported to credit providers, all someone needs to do is call 0800 4 FINES and pay their fines in full, or make an arrangement to pay over time, and keep to that arrangement,” Mrs te Heuheu says.

Credit Check of Fines is projected to collect an additional $27 million over the next five years.

Other changes coming into force on 13 February 2012 include:
• New measures to give courts priority over secured creditors for seized property (in specific circumstances);
• Increasing the likelihood of reparation payments being made;
• Simplifying payment arrangement processes, to make it easier for people to pay their fines;
• Extending the court’s vehicle seizure powers to include all property; and
• Aligning District Court and High Court fines collection and enforcement processes.

ENDS

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