Time for fines to match living standards

FINES no longer correspond to the current cost of living, according to law commissioner Leda Koursoumba, who has tabled a bill to increase court fines – some by up to 2,000 per cent.

DISY deputy Marios Matsakis first suggested the raising of fines in November 2001, based on the impact of inflation.
Koursoumba informed the House Legal Affairs Committee that Matsakis’ proposal could be seen as unconstitutional, but stressed that it was substantial and just, as fines had not been changed since 1987. She added that things had changed today, resulting in the fines imposed not being enough, considering the current socio-economic standard of the island.

The commissioner said fines must increase to take account of inflation totaling 78 per cent since 1987, an economy that has grown by 207 per cent, lower end salaries that have risen by 216 per cent and civil service salaries that have risen by 224 per cent.

Koursoumbas’ bill suggests the following new fines to accompany prison sentences. For one month’s imprisonment, the convict would have to pay a fine up to £200. From one to three months, the fine would be £1,000, from three to six months, up to £2,000, rising to £4000 for a sentence of six to twelve months imprisonment. From one to two years’ jail, the fine would be £6,000, with £8,000 for terms over two years.

Fines without prison sentences would see shocking rises if the bill was passed. Fines of £5 today would rise to £100. Fines of £21-26 would rise to £500. Fines from £50 to £100 would be increased to £1,000, while fines of £100-£300 would increase to £3,000. Current fines between £1,000 and £4,000 would hit £6,000.
Deputies on the Legal Affairs Committee were hesitant to commit on the proposal. Some felt the fines were too hefty, even though they agreed they must be re-evaluated to come into line with new economic realities.