Huge increase in number of people jailed for not paying fines

Huge increase in number of people jailed for not paying fines

The number of people jailed for non-payments of fines has soared by 82%, it has been revealed.

Official figures show 1,921 men and women did not comply with court orders to pay bills in 2012, including fines for road traffic offences and not paying a television licence.

The Courts Service revealed 60% of all cases before the District Courts are for road convictions and called for fines to be included in road taxes.

The Chief Justice, Ms Susan Denham, called for alternatives to be considered to the automatic inclusion of those who do not pay fines in the court system.

“The Courts Service has many times offered the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport ideas for keeping people out of the courts system, including adding unpaid and uncontested fines to road tax bills,” she said.

Elsewhere, figures show there was a 14% rise in numbers or tenants ejected from properties for not paying rent, up to 1,794, but home, business and land repossessions dropped.

There were 270 possession cases lodged in the High Court in 2012 – down 43% on 2011 and 54% in 2010 – with 198 orders made.

Another 58 orders were made as part of a mortgage suit, while the Circuit Court dealt with 258 possession orders, down 27%, including on 229 residential properties.

There were also 35 bankruptcies declared, up from 33, and 97 solicitors act cases taken.

Ms Denham said the courts reflect the state of the economy and society.

While Commercial Court cases and winding up positions both fell by 13%, she reported a 50% rise in orders to restrict company directors – to 81 – while the number of company directors struck off soared by 350% to 18.

“The courts do not operate in a vacuum,” said Ms Denham.

“Their work is a reflection of a society, a state, or an economy.

“The ethics in the board room and in the governance of enterprises, rather than a constant eye on the needs of the shareholders, was the way forward to building trust in our economic sector: to build trust in Ireland as a place to do business.”

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