13. Collection orders

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.

The Courts Act 2003 created a fines collection scheme which provides for greater administrative enforcement of fines. Consult your legal adviser for further guidance.

Attachment of earnings orders/applications for benefit deductions

Unless it would be impracticable or inappropriate to do so, the court must make an attachment of earnings or (AEO) or application for benefit deductions (ABD) whenever:

  • compensation is imposed (Courts Act 2003, sch. 5, para. 7A); or
  • the court concludes that the offender is an existing defaulter and that the existing default(s) cannot be disregarded (Courts Act 2003, sch.5, para. 8).

In other cases, the court may make an AEO or ABD with the offender’s consent (Courts Act 2003, sch.5, para. 9).

The court must make a collection order in every case in which a fine or compensation order is imposed unless this would be impracticable or inappropriate (Courts Act 2003, sch.5, para. 12). The collection order must state:

  • the amount of the sum due, including the amount of any fine, compensation order or other sum;
  • whether the court considers the offender to be an existing defaulter;
  • whether an AEO or ABD has been made and information about the effect of the order;
  • if the court has not made an AEO or ABD, the payment terms;
  • if  an AEO or ABD has been made, the reserve terms (in other words, the payment terms that will apply if the AEO or ABD fails). It will often be appropriate to set a reserve term of payment in full within 14 days.