Are the fines still outstanding?

Strict time limits apply to the length of time a fine against you is still owing. It is important to remember that bankruptcy does not automatically cancel an outstanding fine. You may get advice from your local community legal centre or a financial counsellor.

Time limits

The infringements system sets time limits after which no further action can be taken against you. These limits vary according to the stage the matter has reached in the infringements process.

Where an infringement notice has been issued, the limit is 12 months from the time of the offence, or from the time when you last made a payment of part of the penalty. If, within that time, the matter has not been registered with the Infringements Court and a summons has not been issued for you to appear in court, the enforcement agency cannot act to make you pay the penalty.

An enforcement order issued by the Infringements Court expires five years after it was made, or five years from the date of the last payment of an instalment under the order. The enforcement order also ceases to have effect if the infringement warrant can no longer be acted upon, which occurs five years after the issue of the warrant. An enforcement agency can apply to the Infringements Court to have an enforcement order reinstated after it has lapsed and it is then in force for a further five years. Enforcement orders that have expired can only be reinstated once by the infringements registrar.

If you are being pursued to pay old fines, check on these time limits; you may no longer be required to pay the debt. If you believe this is the case, seek advice from a financial counsellor or legal service to help you argue your case with the enforcement agency or the Infringements Court (as applicable) (see Legal services that can help, and Financial counselling services).

The effect of bankruptcy

Some infringements fines are not extinguished by bankruptcy and remain due and payable even after a person has been “discharged” from bankruptcy. Seek legal advice if you are considering a bankruptcy application due to infringements. Generally, fines imposed in the Magistrates’ Court under the Sentencing Act are not “provable” in bankruptcy. For information, see Understanding bankruptcy.