You want to pay a magistrate's court fine in installments.

Section 165 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 enables you to have the court reduce your fine and allow you to pay it in affordable instalments. It states;

 

Remission of fines

(1)This section applies where a court has, in fixing the amount of a fine, determined the offender’s financial circumstances under section 164(5).

(2)If, on subsequently inquiring into the offender’s financial circumstances, the court is satisfied that had it had the results of that inquiry when sentencing the offender it would—

(a)have fixed a smaller amount, or

(b)not have fined him,

it may remit the whole or part of the fine.


There is also guidance issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council at paragraph 40 of its Magistrates' Court Guideline, which states;

40: A court will allow payments to be made over a period set by the court:

a. If periodic payments are allowed, the fine should normally be payable within a maximum of 12 months. However, it may be unrealistic to expect those on very low incomes to maintain payments for as long as a year;

b. 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 3 years.

41. Where fine bands D and E apply (see paragraphs 34-36 above), it may be appropriate for the fine to be 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 2 years (band E)."

 

 

Telephone the court manager or the fines officer saying that you are experiencing severe hardship and ask to pay the fine in regular instalments.

Making this request in writing (end send by post and by email) and it's much more difficult for court staff to wriggle and get round your request because that amounts to breaching court guidelines.

 

 

If you want to pay in instalments or want a deduction order from benefits, then telephone the fines officer saying that you are experiencing severe hardship and/or you are looking after infant children. record the call using an appropriate app on your mobile without telling them. You may need it if you decide to ask the Parliamentary Ombudsman to intervene and ensure that Court staff do comply with the rules..

The court manager or the fines officer might try telling you to "let the bailiff into your home to set up a repayment plan ". You must make it very clear to the court manager or the fines officer that you are already under legal advice that you must NEVER EVER under ANY circumstances allow a bailiff into your home because the Court Service is acting in breach of Paragraph 40 of the Magistrates Court Guidelines.

Tell the court manager or the fines officer - his advice is wrong and you are asking them to comply with their own guidelines. You have no contract or obligation to deal with third party bailiff companies.

 

The next step is a committal proceeding.

You can go before the magistrate and re-instate your offer to pay in instalments or commute the fine to a deduction order from benefits, or unpaid work under Paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 of the Courts Act 2003.

Be prepared to produce a copy of the above telephone call you made to the court manager or the fines officer. You can hand it on a device to the court usher who can pass it to the bench.