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PERIN Court processes and Civic Compliance

Fines Victoria

 

What is the Fines Victoria?

Fines Victoria is the administrative body that collects all outstanding fines owed to government and enforcement agencies. This includes court fines, on the spot fines, parking fines etc. On 1 January 2018 Fines Victoria took over the roles that were previously performed by Civic Compliance Victoria and the Infringements Court. Prior to July 2006 the Infringements Court was known as the PERIN Court.


This page is out of date since 1/1/2018 and is undergoing review.

 

What is the infringement enforcement process?

Fine is issued

There are over 100 government authorities that are authorised to issue on-the-spot fines in the form of infringement notices and penalty notices. If a person pays the penalty shown on an infringement notice, the matter comes to an end. No further proceedings may be taken in respect of the offence. No conviction is recorded unless it is a licence loss infringement notice.

If an infringement notice suspends or cancels the person's driver's licence, the person must lodge an objection within 28 days of the date of the notice if they wish to avoid licence loss or challenge the matter in court. It also stops a conviction being recorded against them for the offence alleged in the notice. The licence loss aspect is enforced by VicRoads. The financial penalty component is enforced at the Infringements Court. It is not possible to contest any part of a licence loss infringement notice unless the driver sends in an objection to the notice within 28 days  of the date the notice was served.

Reminder Letter

When a person fails to pay within time a fine that does not carry licence loss (such as a parking fine, most traffic fines or a litter fine) the person is sent a reminder notice by a quasi-government agency called Civic Compliance. Civic Compliance is a debt collection agency operated for the government by Serco Ltd, a private company. A person who receives a reminder letter is given another 28 days to pay the penalty together with a small recovery fee added on top. If the person wants to challenge the infringement offence they need to elect within the permitted time to have the matter heard and determined in court.  Instructions on how to send in your election to go to court can be found on the reverse of the infringement notice or the back of the reminder letter. If the election is given within time (i.e. before an enforcement order is made), the infringement notice will be withdrawn and a charge and summons will be served for the alleged offence. If the enforcement agency (e.g. the police or a council) wishes to prosecute the offender the agency must file and serve a charge and summons. In the majority of cases the charge must be filed at court within 12 months of the date of the offence.

Notice of Final Demand

A person who fails to pay the fine and fails to lodge an election to take the infringement to court risks having the penalty enforced. Fines Victoria will issue a Notice of Final Demand.  More costs will then be incurred and the offender will be asked to pay the infringement penalty and costs within a specified time or else a warrant will be issued to recover the debt. The Notice of Final Demand is usually about two months after the reminder letter is sent. This also causes demerit points to accrue in respect of many traffic offences. Once a Notice of Final Demand has been issued it is usually too late to elect to take the case to court, or to nominate a responsible person for owner-onus offences.

If you wish to contest an infringement notice but you are too late to elect to take it to court, you might be able to make an application for enforcement review.

Enforcement Warrant issued

If the debt remains unpaid, the agency that issued the fine will cause  a warrant to be issued to recover the debt. The warrant directs the Sheriff to seize and sell the person's property to raise sufficient money to pay the debt, or alternatively to arrest the person and detain the person for so many days as is required to expiate the penalty at the rate of one day of imprisonment for each $140.00 of debt.

Enforcement Warrant Executed

When the sheriff knocks on a person's door to execute the warrant the sheriff will give the person 7 days to pay the debt before carting away his/her property or - more likely -  arresting the person. Property seized by the sheriff is eventually sold by public auction if the debtor continues to fail to pay the debt. If the sheriff arrests you, you will be bailed to attend court on a date in about a month's time. You should see a lawyer if you want help to reduce the debt and/or manage the repayments and/or avoid imprisonment.  The higher the debt, the greater the advantages you will get by using a lawyer and the greater the money you will save. 

When the sheriff seizes a person's property, the sheriff normally places a sticker on the property claiming legal or "walking" possession of the property. The sheriff leaves the property in the physical possession of the debtor for 7 days or so and provides the debtor a chance to pay the debt or come to an acceptable arrangement. The debtor is not allowed to deal with the property in any way that is inconsistent with the right of the sheriff to remove the property and sell it. 

If you get arrested, the sheriff will bail you to attend a Magistrates Court at a Penalty Enforcement Warrant hearing. At this hearing the court wants to know what you are going to do about paying off the debt. You can apply for a reduction in the debt which should succeed if you have a good explanation or exceptional circumstances. Often very significant reductions can be achieved, especially if special circumstances (homelessness, drug addiction, mental health problems) apply. The court will usually allow you time to pay or it will make an installment order. The court also has power to sentence you to a term of imprisonment at a rate of approximately one day per $135.00 of debt. You can also be order to do community work in place of imprisonment. If an installment order is made, the court will usually order you to serve a jail term in respect of the balance of the debt if you default in making any payment. The court will not order community work if the total debt is over $10,000. 

 

Application for Enforcement Review.

When a person ignores many enforcement orders/final demands over a long period of time, the day the sheriff eventually catches up with them the debt can be tens of thousands of dollars, and the number of weeks or months in prison to 'pay' off the debt can be frightening. It is the sheriff's warrant that is empowering the sheriff to seize property or make an arrest, and this warrant is founded on the enforcement order. The enforcement order can be revoked by the Infringements Court at any time prior to the warrant being executed (prior to payment of money, seizure of goods or arrest of a person). A person in this position might be advised to seek revocation of the enforcement orders which, if successful, will see the warrants founded upon them disappear. It will also result in the fines and any demerit points being set aside - at least until such time as a Magistrates Court deals with the offence.

An application for Enforcement Review can be made online or by filling out the form at Fines Victoria. Sometimes it is best to make an application for an extension of time instead of, or in addition to, making an application for enforcement review, so see an experienced lawyer to get advice if getting the right outcome is critical to you. 

if your application for enforcement review is rejected, as most of them are, you might like to seek advice on how to handle the case from there. In many cases the next step is to prepare to be arrested by the sheriff and brought to court on a penalty enforcement warrant, at which point you will be able to apply to a Magistrate for a reduction of your debt.


 

Contacting Fines Victoria

P.O. Box 14487, Melbourne City Mail Centre, Melbourne 8001.
Telephone: (03) 9094 2000. Fax: 9094 2020.

Address: 277 William Street, Melbourne

GPO Box 1916
Melbourne VIC 3001

Penalty Notice enquiries: (03) 9200 8111
Country callers (free call) 1800 150 410
Sheriff's Office Enquiries: (03) 9200 8222
 

Related Pages:
Speeding
Warrants of Arrest
Fines

Related Links:
Dept of Justice Infringements Court

Magistrates Court of Victoria - Infringements Court

 

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