Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.
A fine is payable in full on the day on which it is imposed. The offender should always be asked for immediate payment when present in court and some payment on the day should be required wherever possible.
Where that is not possible, the court may, in certain circumstances, require the offender to be detained (see section 82 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 for restrictions on the power to impose imprisonment on default). More commonly, a court will allow payments to be made over a period set by the court:
- if periodic payments are allowed, the fine should normally be payable within a maximum of 12 months.
- compensation should normally be payable within 12 months. However, in exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to allow it to be paid over a period of up to three years.
Where fine bands D, E and F apply, it may be appropriate for the fine to be of an amount that is larger than can be repaid within 12 months. In such cases, the fine should normally be payable within a maximum of 18 months (band D) or two years (bands E and F).
When allowing payment by instalments payments should be set at a realistic rate taking into account the offender’s disposable income. The following approach may be useful:
|Net weekly income||Suggested starting point for weekly payment|
If the offender has dependants or larger than usual commitments, the weekly payment is likely to be decreased.
The payment terms must be included in any collection order made in respect of the amount imposed.