Motoring fines may be put on your car tax bill

Motorists who fail to pay fines for driving offences could have the bill added to their next motor tax demand under proposals to be considered by the Government.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he would be discussing the idea with Transport Minister Leo Varadkar as an alternative to bringing people before the courts.

Almost 60% of cases dealt with by the district courts last year related to road traffic offences where fines were issued but not paid — 193,000 cases — and Chief Justice Susan Denham said the automatic use of the courts in these situations should be reconsidered.

Speaking after the publication of the Courts Service annual report, Mr Shatter said he found the idea of using the motor tax system, as is done in other countries, very interesting.

“If that type of system could be introduced it would relieve some of the pressure on our courts and it would also facilitate the collection of fines, and it’s certainly an issue that I intend to discuss with my colleague Minister Varadkar.”

Other reforms the minister is working on include the creation of a permanent Court of Appeal to take appeals against High Court decisions out of the Supreme Court, where there is a four-year waiting list for cases to be heard.

The Supreme Court, which is the world’s busiest for its size and issued 121 judgments last year, would then be able to concentrate on constitutional issues and other exceptional cases.

The creation of a new court requires a change to the Constitution and Mr Shatter will today publish the legislation needed for a referendum to be held in the autumn.

He said it was vital that the referendum be passed, not only for timely access to justice but also for the sake of the economy and employment as delays in handling disputes were bad for business.

“It’s very important to the commercial sector that issues are determined at speed, that people’s businesses aren’t being placed at risk, for example, by delays within our courts system.

“It is one of the issues that businesses globally look at when deciding whether to locate their business in a country or, indeed, multinationals who are already here look at when deciding whether to extend their presence here and provide additional employment.”

Mr Shatter also reiterated his plans to establish a separate Family Court to take family law cases out of the criminal and civil court sittings and said it was his intention to hold another referendum on that next year.

On the new Insolvency Service, he would be signing the regulations governing its operation within days. New specialist judges of the circuit court would be sworn in next week to oversee and certify the service’s decisions and applications would be invited “very shortly” from people wishing to make debt settlement arrangements.

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