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Pay fines before you leave the country!


Pay fines before you leave the country! says Minister

“Fines defaulters should now think twice about trying to leave the country without paying their fines”, Courts Minister Margaret Wilson said today, announcing Cabinet approval of an initiative to enforce fines at New Zealand international airports.

The initiative, which involves the co-operation of a number of government departments, will enable Courts to compare its database of fines defaulters with the New Zealand Customs Service’s database of people travelling in or out of the country and to intercept ‘hard core’ fines defaulters at international airports.

Amendments to the Privacy Act, the Customs and Excise Act 1996, the Immigration Act 1987, and the Summary Proceedings Act are required. These amendments are included in the Courts and Criminals Matters Bill.

Margaret Wilson said the fact that some individuals with significant amounts owing have been able to leave New Zealand permanently or on holiday has diminished the credibility of the fine as a sentence.

“In recent years there has been considerable media coverage of the fact that fines defaulters have been able to leave New Zealand owing high value fines and reparation. There are cases where people have left our shores owing thousands of dollars in fines. This initiative will allow Courts to apply a proactive focus to preventing serious fines defaulters leaving the country.”

Margaret Wilson said she would encourage anyone with overdue fines to pay them and avoid further charges and enforcement action.

“The focus of this initiative are the ‘hard core’ defaulters who have so far managed to evade enforcement of their fines and reparation.”

Estimates suggested that this initiative might lead to the resolution of about $1.5 million of fines per year, Margaret Wilson said.

“However, just as important is the ability to prevent offenders from flouting the law which enhances the credibility of the fine as a penalty.”

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