City addresses outstanding fines

Guelph, Ont., June 6, 2016 – Starting this week, individuals who have outstanding fines can expect to receive a collection notice from a third party agency acting on the City’s behalf. There are approximately 31,000 outstanding cases on record totaling approximately $14 million in unpaid fines.

The City of Guelph’s Court Services is responsible for enforcing payment of all fines related to Provincial Offences charges issued in Guelph-Wellington. When an individual fails to respond to a ticket they receive or a fine ordered in a provincial offence trial, the fine goes into default. The court then follows a set process to collect the fine, which includes a series of notices, civil enforcement and the use of a collection agency.

“Nearly two-thirds of all individuals who receive a ticket in Guelph-Wellington pay the fine in a timely manner or exercise their option for a trial,” says Brad Coutts, general manager of Court Services. “Less than 15 per cent of all fines go into default, meaning they are forgotten or ignored. Fine collection serves to uphold the purpose of the enforcement of laws in the community and preserves the integrity and authority of the justice system.”

The City is not the first municipality to use third party collection agencies to assist in closing open files. Most municipally-operated courts in Ontario use collection agencies as part of the fine enforcement process. People receiving notice of collection are encouraged to contact the collection agency directly to address the outstanding fine.

The Court faces some challenges as some outstanding fines may date back 20 years or more. Potentially some  individuals may be deceased and the Court’s records may not have been updated. Family members are likely not aware that when an individual passes away and their records are updated with the Ministry of Transportation, for example, those records are not automatically updated with other agencies or courts.

“It is not the City’s intention to upset or cause harm to family members through this process. We are contacting individuals based on the information on record with the court,” says Coutts.  “Where family members receive notice of collection, we ask that they contact the collection agency so that the status of the court file can be verified and updated accordingly.”  

For more information

Brad Coutts, General Manager Court Services
Corporate Services
519-822-1260 extension 2909
brad.coutts@guelph.ca