No special circumstances established to justify restraining potential sanction for non-payment of fines

By: Amy Walsh BL

or click here to request site subscription to search and view all judgments

High Court, in proceedings where the applicant was convicted, sentenced and fined after a criminal process, rejects the argument that because of delay in the conclusion of enforcement procedures, it would be oppressive to expose the applicant to risk of sanction now, including a potential custodial sentence, for non-payment of the fines imposed, on the grounds that: while the delays at issue are clearly inordinate and have not been explained, unlike other cases where the Court has intervened by way of judicial review, there is no inevitability of a return to prison or the imposition of a manifestly unfair or disproportionate penalty in this case; and special circumstances have not been demonstrated in this case to warrant the exceptional measure of restraining that process by way of judicial review.

Applicant sentenced in the District Court in 2016 for road traffic offences which led to enforcement procedures due to non-payment of a fine – Applicant did not appeal the fine - Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act, 2014 – Court service took 17 months to issue fine notice - warrant for arrest re. fines issued 2018 due to non-attendance at Court and was executed in 2021 - between 2016 and 2019 the Applicant was in custody on a separate matter – Court was considering sentencing options in fine matter including community service - 7(5)(a)(ii) of the 2014 Act – Applicant says delay in enforcement sentencing is prejudicial as he might have avoided the consequences of non-payment of the fines had a custodial sentence been imposed while he was serving time in custody on an unrelated matter – Court finds that the Gardai and Court Services contributed to the delay - no adequate explanation for delay – Court Service role administrative but this does not give it immunity in relation to Judicial Review proceedings – Minister for Justice and Equality was improperly joined to proceedings - Applicant made no attempt to conceal his whereabouts or evade service of arrest warrant - 16 month delay in issuing fine notice and almost 3 years in respect of the execution of the arrest warrant plainly excessive – Gardai delay more significant than Court Service – District Court Judge can consider CSO or strike out - custodial sentence not certain outcome – Judicial Review brought prematurely - CSO likely and not unfair or oppressive to Applicant – Judicial Review refused

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

The only fast reporting service for all Irish judgments over the past ten years. Click here to request a subscription.

Register Now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *