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Criminal Courts Charge to be added to all Magistrate Court fines.

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For a very long time (at least four years that I know of) plans have been made at the Ministry of Justice to charge a fee to debtors when court fines are imposed. I have posted brief details of these plans on the forum over the past year and the official announcement was made yesterday of the actual amounts and the reason why they are being charged.

 

The following link provides some background and I will post further details later.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/336085/fact-sheet-criminal-courts-charge.pdf

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Significant changes are being made regarding court summonses and how they will be dealt with.

 

The most common summary offences continue to be for TV Licence Fines, speeding, failure to provide driver identity and driving a motor vehicle without valid insurance. In these cases, the new Criminal Court Charge will be £150 and will take effect from 13th April 2015.

 

A Schedule of the actual amounts to be charged is outlined in secondary legislation (link below)

 

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/796/schedule/made

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I can see their logic in doing this, but I am a little concerned.

 

a) The justice system is there to protect everyone, thus everyone pays for it out of general taxation.

b) If they are going to impose this, does that mean that our taxes used to fun that portion of the justice budget will be reduced? Not likely.

c) Implications of people pleading guilty just to avoid the extra expense.

d) A large number of crimes are committed by people who "CANT" pay anyway. Hounding them after convictions for another debt may have an impact on rehabilitation and encourage crime.

e)It could also incur more costs than revenue brought in.

 

We have enough bars in our justice system as it is. Do we need more?


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I can see their logic in doing this, but I am a little concerned.

 

d) A large number of crimes are committed by people who "CANT" pay anyway. Hounding them after convictions for another debt may have an impact on rehabilitation and encourage crime.

 

I have personally written a number of articles about this proposal outlining my concerns about the affordability and in fact, the subject has been 'hotly' debated in the House of Commons in the past few months. This charge has been under consideration for a very long time and I received copies of the Impact documents over 2 years ago.

 

In my most recent article I used an example of a person receiving a summons for using a TV without a Licence.

 

Average court fine: £250

 

TV Licensing Prosecution Costs: £120

 

Victims Surcharge: £20

 

Criminal Courts Charge £150.

 

Amount payable: £540

If payment is not made and a warrant issued a Compliance fee of £75 is added and if a payment proposal (or full payment) is not forthcoming, the debt is passed to an individual bailiff and a further £235 Enforcement fee is added bringing the amount payable to £850 !!!

 

The importance of responding to a summons and completing the Means Form at an early stage is now more important than ever before. This will not remove the Criminal Court Charge (as the regulations state that the amount 'must' be charged) but at least offenders can get an affordable payment arrangement set up with the court.

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Where is the CCC going, what will it pay for / reduce cost of to the taxpayer ?

 

What benefit other than to add another level of penalty in the criminal justice system ?

 

Who proposed this frankly bollocks idea ?

 

N

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A concerning announcement. Guilty pleas encouraged and yet another burden on people with little income. Even the Magistrates' Association Chairman, Richard Monkhouse, said, "We see an awful lot of people who are offending because they have no money, so just slapping another fine on them, another costs element on them, isn't actually going to make a big difference if they're not able to pay."

 

The predictions state annual revenue by 2020 of £135 million, but also unpaid fees owed to the court service of £1 billion by the same date.

 

Particularly worrying is the review date of three years, despite the Magistrates' Association saying it should be reviewed after just 6 months. It seems another ill thought through exercise to me.

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More outrageous charges on people who cannot afford the original penalty in many cases, but heigh ho, HM Courts Service must be made to turn a profit.


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Where is the CCC going, what will it pay for / reduce cost of to the taxpayer ?

 

What benefit other than to add another level of penalty in the criminal justice system ?

 

Who proposed this frankly bollocks idea ?

 

N

 

 

The Criminal Courts Charge is just one of a whole range of changes that come into force on 13th April regarding Magistrate Court fines and this 'overhaul' was first debated in 2006 and outlined in the Ministry of Justice's Business plan way back in 2012.

 

The government are of the view that those convicted of criminal offences should pay towards the costs incurred by the court in bringing them to justice instead of the taxpayer having to fund the criminal justice system.

 

Looking back at previous documents Magistrate Courts deal with 1.8 million cases each year of which 1.2 million are 'regulatory cases' . These are summary- only non-imprisonable cases (such as TV Licensing, speeding, no insurance, failure to identity driver etc) which almost exclusively result in a financial penalty, where defendants seldom attend court or even bother to enter a plea, but where the court is still required to conduct a trial in a courtroom open to the public. It is estimated that these cases cost the taxpayer over £25m.

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More outrageous charges on people who cannot afford the original penalty in many cases, but heigh ho, HM Courts Service must be made to turn a profit.

 

In fact the government are adamant that this is not the case given that the new regulations allow those who are convicted of a criminal offence the opportunity to pay their court fines at a rate that they can afford.

 

As I have said above, the Criminal Court Charge is just one of a many important changes that take place from 13th April. The other important changes (some of which I wrote about on the forum over a year ago) are outlined in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. In brief these include:

 

***
That all 'regulatory' summary-only, non imprisonable offences (TV Licensing, speedings, driving without insurance, failure to provide driver identity etc) will be dealt with by a single magistrate and one legal adviser instead of a bench of two or three magistrates) without the need for the defendant or prosecutor to attend court.

 

***
The case and the amount of fine and payment terms will be decided by the single magistrate on the basis of the written documentation provided by the defendant.

 

***
The previous 'summons' is to be replaced.

 

***
Statutory declarations will have stricter conditions. The main one being that the defendant must outline whether they plead guilty or not guilty to the offence.

 

There are many other changes but in order to avoid confusion, it will be far better for me to outline everything in a new Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 thread.

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I have written many times on the forum regarding cases where debtors are arrested for either obstructing a bailiff or for removing a wheel clamp from a car using bolt cutters. It is offence under Section 68 of Schedule 12 of the Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (link below).

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2007/15/schedule/12?view=plain

 

If anyone on the forum is tempted to advise a debtor to cut off a wheel clamp then they should bear in mind that if the debtor is convicted at trial then from 13th April he will now incur a Criminal Court Charge of £520. This will be in additional to the court fine (which can be up to £10,000

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The Criminal Courts Charge is just one of a whole range of changes that come into force on 13th April regarding Magistrate Court fines and this 'overhaul' was first debated in 2006 and outlined in the Ministry of Justice's Business plan way back in 2012.

 

The government are of the view that those convicted of criminal offences should pay towards the costs incurred by the court in bringing them to justice instead of the taxpayer having to fund the criminal justice system.

 

Looking back at previous documents Magistrate Courts deal with 1.8 million cases each year of which 1.2 million are 'regulatory cases' . These are summary- only non-imprisonable cases (such as TV Licensing, speeding, no insurance, failure to identity driver etc) which almost exclusively result in a financial penalty, where defendants seldom attend court or even bother to enter a plea, but where the court is still required to conduct a trial in a courtroom open to the public. It is estimated that these cases cost the taxpayer over £25m.

 

Thought the Government were bringing in online pleading to remove things like speeding etc form the courtrooms.

And TV license we know to be heading towards being a civil offense rather than a criminal one.


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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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For a very long time (at least four years that I know of) plans have been made at the Ministry of Justice to charge a fee to debtors when court fines are imposed. I have posted brief details of these plans on the forum over the past year and the official announcement was made yesterday of the actual amounts and the reason why they are being charged.

 

The following link provides some background and I will post further details later.

 

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/336085/fact-sheet-criminal-courts-charge.pdf

 

 

What is very concerning is part 13 of the attachment see quote here

 

 

"13. The charge will be collected using existing HMCTS debt collection processes in a similar way to other financial impositions such as fines and compensation."

Will this mean more income for the EA or will this be included in the recovery order?

 

 

This will take the "debt" above a certain level that will allow the EA to charge the % that is available at this time?

 

 

What if any change will this have if an AoE is applied to the debtor? Or what will happen if the defendant is on benefits? This will leave them much less money to live on at the end of the day


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If anyone on the forum is tempted to advise a debtor to cut off a wheel clamp then they should bear in mind that if the debtor is convicted at trial then from 13th April he will now incur a Criminal Court Charge of £520. This will be in additional to the court fine (which can be up to £10,000

 

That is stupid advice, to advise someone to cut off a wheel clamp! Surely it is illegal as well as criminal damage?!

 

Charges added to debtors fines seems to be a good idea in the case of debtors who have the ability to pay but refuse to pay and ignore all communication.

Send in the bailiffs, teach them a lesson that they should repay their debt if they have money!

 

Charges added to debtors fines is certainly a bad idea in the case of debtors who can not afford to pay their debts. I've seen a few threads on CAG where the debtor is struggling to pay council tax and their local council are simply ignoring them, ignoring their complaints, concerns and inability to repay, and just proceeding with enforcement. If someone is struggling to repay a debt, then they should be given help, time, assistance etc - certainly not proceed to court and bailiffs whereby the debt is increased significantly!

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On a second thought what if the defendant completes the MC100 form and the bench still decide to make the Recovery Order at a level that will cause financial hardship?

 

 

The amount of "fine" now will have increased significantly and therefore the costs could have a detrimental affect of the family of the defendant. If these costs are indeed added this may cause even more poverty.

 

 

Will HMRC now allow a reasonable amount of time to pay the fines and will this also be seen to stop the full balance being demanded by the EA?

 

 

What are the new time scales being allowed to pay the new higher rate of fines now?


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Quote from post 9

 

 

"In fact the government are adamant that this is not the case given that the new regulations allow those who are convicted of a criminal offence the opportunity to pay their court fines at a rate that they can afford".

 

I assume this is only applicable if the debt has not been sent to the EA for collection then? Following the quote above will the EA now be stopped from demanding full payment at the first attendance or has this not changed?

 

 

So using the quote in its meaning then what are your interpretations' as to full payment at first call? Given that the Government wants the debtor to pay at an affordable rate!


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I'm missing something here. The Act refers a lot to Section 21B of the POA.

 

I can't see Section 21B. I can see Section 21, but it has no A or B.

 

Please can someone link to the legislation I'm having a senior moment about.

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I still return to this:

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?443504-Criminal-Courts-Charge-to-be-added-to-all-Magistrate-Court-fines.&p=4714182&viewfull=1#post4714182

 

The Government have a proven history of getting many things wrong, so their word counts for little. They have chosen deliberately to ride roughshod over the Magistrates' Association - the one body which, above all, know the reality.

 

Have they said why they chose totally to ignore their views? No - not as far as I can ascertain.

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EXPLANATORY NOTE

 

(This note is not part of the Regulations)

Section 21A(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (c. 23) (“the POA 1985”) requires a court, at the times listed in section 21B of the POA 1985, to order a person convicted of an offence to pay a charge in respect of relevant court costs (the “criminal courts charge”). This duty does not apply in the cases or classes of case prescribed by the Lord Chancellor (section 21A(3)).


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Secion 21B has to be part of the regs. It's the note which isn't. I just can't see Section 21B - obviously me, hence me asking for a link.

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Have you read the explanatory notes at the bottom of the new Act yet some interesting points there especially part 21(e)

 

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE

 

(This note is not part of the Regulations)

Section 21A(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (c. 23) (“the POA 1985”) requires a court, at the times listed in section 21B of the POA 1985, to order a person convicted of an offence to pay a charge in respect of relevant court costs (the “criminal courts charge”). This duty does not apply in the cases or classes of case prescribed by the Lord Chancellor (section 21A(3)).

 

 

Regulation 2 prescribes the classes of case in which the criminal courts charge must not be ordered: where an offender is dealt with for the offence by being absolutely discharged, or where the offender is given a hospital or guardianship order for the offence, or a direction for hospital admission, under the Mental Health Act 1983 (c. 20); and those cases where the Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the case for appeal. Regulation 2(2) and (3) provide that where a court deals with an offender in the same proceedings for both an offence and for any failure to comply with requirements imposed by a community order, a community requirement of a suspended sentence order or a supervision requirement, the court must not impose a criminal courts charge when dealing with the offender for the breach of a requirement. Regulation 2(4) deals with the unusual situation where a court is dealing with an offender in the same proceedings for multiple breaches of orders mentioned in section 21B of the 1985 Act. Where for example the court deals both with a breach of requirements imposed by a community order and a breach of the community requirements of a suspended sentence order, regulation 2(5) means that a charge must not be imposed in relation to the failure to comply with the community requirements of the suspended sentence order.

 

 

Regulation 3 and the associated table in the Schedule specify the amounts payable in respect of different classes of case. Regulation 3(4) and (5) for example, deal with the situation where a court is dealing with an offender for more than one offence in the same proceedings where more than one entry in column 1 of the table is potentially relevant. This may occur where a magistrates’ court at a trial is dealing with an offender for conviction of both a summary offence and an offence triable either way. Article 3(5) explains that the court must order the highest relevant amount corresponding to the class of case with which it is concerned.

 

 

Section 21E of the POA 1985 gives a magistrates’ court power to remit the criminal courts charge in certain circumstances. The magistrates’ court may not do so until “a specified period” has elapsed from certain events, such as the day on which a person was last convicted of an offence. Article 4 specifies the relevant periods and makes different provision depending on whether an application for remission is made by the offender (where the specified period is two years) or any other case – a magistrates’ court acting of its own motion or an application by a fines officer – (where the period is 12 months).


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But where is Section 21B? Sorry to keep banging on, but there's links to Section 21, but not to 21B. If you look at the Table of Contents, there is no 21B. There's 21(b) which is very different.

 

I think I'm going crazy here lol! I just can't see it.

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Have you got a copy of the Halsbury's Annual Abridgement 1985? its Para 637 on page 152


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No I haven't lol! Surely it's enshrined in the legislation somewhere - they wouldn't make such a basic error (I hope), but I'd like to see it with my own eyes. I always like to check back to the source.

 

Thanks for your help, I'll keep hunting.

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