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Enforcement of an outstanding fine

This page explains how a fine is enforced by the infringements registrar.

Registration

If a fine is not paid within 21 days of receiving a penalty reminder notice, the agency may register the penalty with the Director of Fines Victoria ('the director'). This is called the enforcement stage of the fines process. It lasts between the time that the fine is lodged until the expiry of the 7-day notice period. More costs are added at this stage.

The agency may only register the fine with the director if:

  • the infringement offence is a registerable infringement offence
  • the outstanding fine is more than $10
  • a penalty reminder notice has been served on the person
  • the 14 day time limit has passed
  • some or all of the fine and prescribed penalties remain unpaid
  • a charge has not been filed in the Magistrates’ Court for the alleged offence
  • the person is not subject to a work and development permit
  • the person who was issued with the infringement notice was the person who was driving the vehicle at the time that the offence is alleged to have taken place.

See:

Options at this stage

After registration, the person may:

  • pay the fine and additional costs
  • apply to the director for an enforcement review on grounds of special circumstances or on other grounds
  • ask director for a payment arrangement—asking for more time to pay or to pay by instalments
  • ask accredited community support agency to apply to director for a work and development permit, or
  • apply to director under the family violence scheme.

Enforcement may not proceed

After the fine is registered, the director, may decide that it is not appropriate to enforce the fine against the person. Reasons for doing this include if the director believes:

  • the infringement offence would more appropriately be dealt with in court, or
  • it is unlikely that the outstanding amount of the fine will ever be paid (given the amount and the payment options available).

If the director decides that enforcement of the fine is inappropriate they will deregister the fine and advise the enforcement agency in writing.

The enforcement agency may also decide it does not want the director to proceed with the enforcement. They can do this anytime before the director sends a notice of final demand.

See ss. 20, 22—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

Notice of final demand

After the fine has been registered, the director will serve a notice of final demand on the person with unpaid fines. This notice warns the person about the possible enforcement action that they will take if the fine and additional costs are not paid within 21 days. The notice also sets out the person's options.

See ss. 23, 24—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

Options at this stage

After service of the final demand, the person may still:

  • pay the fine and additional costs
  • apply to the director for an enforcement review on grounds of special circumstances or on other grounds
  • ask director for a payment arrangement—asking for more time to pay or to pay by instalments
  • ask accredited community support agency to apply to director for a work and development permit, or
  • apply to director under the family violence scheme.

See:

Evidence of special circumstances

If a person wants to apply for an enforcement review on the grounds of special circumstances, they are very likely to need some supporting documentation as evidence of this before their application will be accepted. It may no longer be sufficient to say that they have an appointment with a psychiatrist, or that they have an appointment with legal aid on a particular date.

See Special circumstances.

Sanctions after 21 days

If the person takes no action within 21 days of getting the notice of final demand, both the director and the sheriff can enforce sanctions against the person. These sanctions can apply to both unpaid infringements and court fines that have been registered with the director. The director has the power to:

  • direct a person to attend and produce information and an oral examination (designed to find out a person's financial circumstances)
  • compel the person's employer to deduct money from the person's pay until the fine has been paid
  • compel a third party (such as a bank) to pay money directly to the director
  • apply for a charge over the person's land
  • direct VicRoads to:
    • suspend driver licence or vehicle registration
    • restrict transfer of vehicle registration
    • refuse to renew licence or registration.

See Sanctions against property.

Enforcement warrant

The sheriff or police officer may also:

  • detain or immobilise a vehicle belonging to the person in default
  • remove the number plates of the vehicle.

See Sanctions against property.

7-day notice

After 21 days of serving the notice of the final demand, if no action has been taken by the person fined, the director can apply to court for an enforcement warrant. This warrant directs the sheriff or a police officer or other authorised person ('the sheriff') to act. The director may have already imposed some of the sanctions against the person by this stage.

The first step is for the sheriff to serve a 7-day notice. This notice is a warning to the person fined that property will be seized and sold to satisfy the debt. After this notice has been served the sheriff may break and enter a person's property and seize possession of property to recover the amount owed. They must not remove the property from the premises unless they believe this is necessary to avoid it being disposed of or removed.

If the money remains unpaid after 7-days, the sheriff will make a final demand for payment and will then seize and sell any personal property to satisfy the debt. If there is not enough property to recover the amount of the fine and costs, the sheriff may arrest the person.

See ss. 109, 115, 119, 120—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

Options after 7-day notice is served

Before the end of the end of this 7-day period the person fined still has a few options. They may:

  • pay the amount outstanding
  • apply for enforcement review
  • apply to make a payment arrangement, or
  • get an accredited community organisation to apply for a work and development permit on their behalf.

See s. 119—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) and Execution of enforcement warrants.

7 day notice about to expire and no evidence of special circumstances

If the 7 day notice is about to expire a person should consider applying for enforcement review on the basis of special circumstances even if they do not have any supporting material. This will create a holding pattern to prevent the warrant being executed.

The applicant should file an application, clearly stating that it is on the basis of special circumstances. Once this is done they will get a letter will get a letter giving them 90 days to provide further evidence.

If the applicant has any material at all that should be sent, even if this is brief and unlikely to satisfy the director that the fine should not be enforced. The director will then give the applicant a further 90 days to file further material.

See s. 120—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

Let the sheriff know

If applying for enforcement review, send a letter to the sheriff's office telling them about the application and ask them to hold off until the matter is heard. The sheriff will do this.

How long the enforcement warrant lasts

An enforcement warrant remains in forced until the outstanding money has been paid, the director asks the court to recall and cancel the enforcement warrant or the warrant is executed.

See s. 124—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

How the warrant may be enforced

After 7 days the sheriff will return and make a final demand for payment. They may seize and sell assets to recover the amount of money outstanding.

See Enforcement.

An enforcement warrant may be stayed

An enforcement warrant will be stayed (put on hold) if:

  • a payment arrangement has been made
  • an attachment of earnings direction has been made
  • an attachment of debts direction has been made, or
  • a work and development plan has been approved.

If the person defaults on any of their obligations the stay will end and the warrant becomes enforceable. The director will recall and cancel the warrant once the money has been repaid or the person has complied with their obligations under the work and development plan.

See s. 125—Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

How the sheriff can enforce payment after 7 days

There are many different ways that the sheriff can act to enforce the debt.

See Sheriffs—Execution of enforcement warrants.

More information

Legislation

Infringements Act 2006 (Vic)

  • s. 29(3)—time for paying after receiving penalty reminder notice

See Infringements Act 2006 (Vic).

Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic)

  • s. 16—registration of infringement fine with director
  • s. 20—director may decide not to enforce
  • s. 22—enforcement agency may ask that the notice of final demand not be send
  • s. 23—notice of final demand
  • s. 24—content of notice of final demand
  • s. 42—time to pay or enter payment arrangement
  • s. 108—recall and cancellation of the enforcement warrant
  • s. 109—what an enforcement
  • s. 118—notice of seized property
  • s. 119—warning of execution of enforcement warrant (7-day notice)
  • s. 121—executing enforcement warrant after expiry of 7-day notice
  • s. 124—how long the enforcement warrant lasts
  • s. 125—stay of enforcement warrant

See Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic).

Infringements Regulations 2016 (Vic)

  • r. 20—sets the minimum infringement penalty amount at $10

See Infringements Regulations 2016 (Vic).

justice connect

This not-for-profit organisation is committed to improving access to justice and protecting human rights. Their site has information for lawyers and advocates in relation to people's rights and obligations when they encounter the criminal justice system.

See 'Infringements' in justice connect's website Homeless Law in Practice.

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