Dealing with your priority debts

Court fines

Fines are the most common penalty used by the Scottish criminal courts. A sheriff or justice of the peace may order you to pay a fine, for example, for a road-traffic offence, for not having a TV licence or for another offence such as theft, minor assault or breach of the peace.

What are 'direct measures'?

In some cases, you might also get a fine without your case going to court. These are called 'direct measures' and have been introduced as an alternative to prosecution.

If you get a fine

You must treat any fine as a priority debt, whether it is a court fine or a non-court fine. This is because your creditors can take strong action against you if you do not pay. The action they can take includes making deductions from some benefits, making deductions from your earnings, freezing money in your bank account, or taking a vehicle that you own. For fines of £500 or more, in rare circumstances you could be sent to prison if you do not pay. This is quite different from a civil debt (for example a loan or a credit-card debt), which you cannot be sent to prison for. If you are finding it difficult to pay a fine, or if you have fallen behind with repayments of a fine, contact us for advice.