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Fine in United Kingdom

Definition of Fine

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Fine :

1. A sum of money that an offender is ordered to pay on convictio Most *summary offences are punishable by a fine with a fixed maximum, in accordance with a standard scale of five levels. These are currently (2001) as follows: level 1 -£200; level 2 – £500; level 3 – £1000; level 4 – £2500; level 5 – £5000. Under the Criminal Justice Act 1991, before fixing a fine, a court must enquire into the financial circumstances of the offender and the amount of the fine fixed by the court should, in addition, reflect the seriousness of the offence. Sometimes provision is made for imprisonment in cases of failure to pay the fine. A fine may also be imposed instead of, or in addition to, any other punishment for someone convicted on indictment (except in cases of murder). This fine is at large, i.e. the amount is at the discretion of the judge. Fines are often imposed upon companies for breach of statutory obligations; although the sums may be relatively small, companies will try to avoid being fined because of the bad publicity this may cause.

When imposing a fine on an offender under the age of 16 (See juvenile offender), the court is not normally empowered to order the offender to pay the fine himself unless his parent or guardian cannot be found or it would be unreasonable in the circumstances to expect his parent or guardian to pay it. Otherwise the offender pays unless payment by the parent or guardian is more appropriate.

2. A lump-sum payment by a tenant to a landlord for the grant or renewal of a lease.

See also premium.

Concept of Fine

The following is an old definition of Fine [1], a term which has several meanings:1. An amicable composition or agreement of a suit, actual or fictitious, by leave of the king or of his justices, whereby lands in question become, or are acknowledged to be, the right of one of the parties. It put an “end” to controversies concerning the matter. The plaintiff began an action of covenant upon a supposed agreement to convey to him. The defendant (the deforciant) then applied to the court for leave to settle the matter; which he did by ac- knowledging that thf lands were the right of the complainant. The ” note” of the fine was an abstract of the writ of covenant, and the concord; it named the parties, the laud, and the agreement. The ”foot” or conclusion recited the parties, day, year, place, and before whom acknowledged or levied. The party levying the fine was called the ” cognizor;” he to whom it was levied, the “cognizee.” The proceeding was a solemn conveyance on record, and bound parties, privies, and strangers – after five years. The object of tenest sought by ” levying a fine ” was the barring of an estate tail. The statute of fines, 11 Hen. Vll (1496), c. 1, and 32 Hen. VIII (1541), c. 36, were abolished by 3 and 4 Wm. IV (1833), c. 74, which substituted a disentailing deed by the tenant in tail. The object of a fine was to quiet titles more speedily than by the ordinary limitation of twenty and twenty-five years. One of two contesting claimants could compel an assertion or abandonment of the pretensions of his adversary in one-fifth the usual period of delay. . . In use in New York down to 1830. Compare Recovery, Common. See Acknowledgment

Alternative Meaning

A pecuniary punishment for an offense, inflicted by sentence of a criminal court. A penalty; a forfeiture. A sum of money imposed by a court according to law, as a punishment for the breach of some penal statute. Never applied to damages or compensation for loss. A pecuniary penalty. A “fine ” is an amercement imposed upon a person for a past violation of law; “exemplary damages” have reference rather to the future than the past conduct of the offender, and are given as an admonition not to repeat the offense. Excessive fines shall not be imposed. This applies to national, not to State, legislation.The Supreme Court cannot, on habeas corpus, revise a sentence on the ground that the fine is excessive. See Amerce; Pardon; Punish.


Notes and References

  1. Meaning of Fine provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889) (Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims and an Exposition of the Principles of Law: Comprising a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence; William C. Anderson; T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, Chicago, United States)

English Law: Fine in the Past

An amicable composition or agreement of a suit, either actual or fictitious, by leave of the court, by which the lands in question become or are acknowledged to be the right of one of the parties. Co. Litt. 120; 2 Bl. Com. 349; Bac. Abr. Fines and Recoveries. A fine is so called, because it puts an end, not only to the suit therefore, commenced, but also to all other suits and controversies concerning the same matter. Such concords, says Doddridge, (Eng. Lawyer, 84, 85,) have been in use in the civil law and are called transactions (see this concept in the corresponding entry on this reference) wof this they say therefore: Transactiones sunt de eis quae in controversia sunt, a, lite futura aut pendente ad certam compositionem reducuntur, dando aliquid vel accipiendo. Or shorter, therefore: Transactio est de re dubia et lite ancipite ne dum ad finem ducta, non gratuita pactio. It is commonly defined an assurance by matter of record and is founded upon a supposed earlierly existing right and upon a writ requiring the party to perform his covenant; although a fine may be levied upon any writ by which lands may be demanded, charged or bound. It has also been defined an acknowledgment on record of a earlier gift or feoffment and prima facie carries a fee, although it may be limited to an estate for life or in fee tail. Prest. on Convey. 200, 202, 268, 269 2 Bl. Com. 348-9.


The stat. 18 E. I., called modus levandi fines, declares and regulates the way in which they should be levied and carried on and that is as follows: 1. The party to whom the land is conveyed or assured, commences an action at law against the other, generally an action of covenant, by suing out of a writ of praecipe, called a writ of covenant, that the one must convey the lands to the other, on the breach of which agreement the action is brought. The suit being therefore, commenced, then follows, 2. The licentia concordandi or leave to compromise the suit. 3. The concord or agreement itself, after leave geted by the court; this is usually an acknowledgment from the deforciants, that the lands in question are the lands of the complainants. 4. The note of the fine, which is only an abstract of the writ of covenant and the concord naming the parties, the parcels of land and the agreement. 5. The foot of the fine or the conclusion of it, which includes the whole matter, reciting the parties, day, year and place and before whom it was acknowledged or levied.


Fines therefore, levied, are of four kinds. 1. What in law French is called a fine sur cognizance de droit, come ceo que il ad de son done; or a fine upon the acknowledgment of the right of the cognizee, as that which he has of the gift of the cognizor. This fine is called a feoffment of record. 2. A fine sur cognizance de droit tantum or acknowledgment of the right merely. 3. A fine sur concessit, is where the cognizor, in order to make an end of disputes, though he acknowledges no precedent right, yet grants to the consignee an estate de novo, usually for life or years, by way of a supposed composition. 4. A fine sur done grant et make, which is a double fine, comprehending the fine sur cognizance de droit come ceo, etc. and the fine sur concessit; and may be used to convey particular limitations of estate and to people who are strangers or not named in the writ of the covenant, but the fine sur cognizance de droit come ceo etc., conveys nothing but an absolute estate either of inheritance or at least of freehold. Salk. 340. In this last species of fines, the cognizee, after the right is acknowledged to be in him, grants back again or makes to the cognizor or perhaps to a stranger some other estate in the premises. 2 Bl. Com. 348 to 358. See Cruise on Fines; Vin. Abr. Fine; Sheph. Touch. c. 2; Bac. Ab. Fines and Recoveries; Comyn’s Digest (A digest of the laws of England, 1822) Fine. [1]


Notes and References

  1. Partialy, this information about fine is based on the Bouvier´s Law Dictionary, 1848 edition. There is a list of terms of the Bouvier´s Law Dictionary, including fine.

See Also

Concept of Fine

Traditional meaning of fine [1] in the English common law history: 1. A sum of money paid by an offender as punishment. 2. A price paid for a privilege. 3. Fine for alienation: a price paid the lord by the tenant in chivalry for permission to alien his lands; see 2nd Book (“The Rights of Things”), Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England 71, 89. 4. Fine of lands: a conveyance of lands by acknowledgment of record, which had the effect of barring an estate tail by excluding the issue of the one levying the fine, the cognizor. The cognizee sued out a writ of praecipe on a fictitious covenant of the cognizor to convey the land in question, upon which a primer fine of one-tenth the annual value of the land was due the King. The court then granted a licentia coucordandi, conge d’accorder, or leave to agree, upon which the post fine, or three-twentieths the annual value of the land, became due the King. Then followed the acknowledgment, the concord itself, made by the cognizor in open court or before commissioners appointed by dedimus potestatem, that the lands were the property of the cognizee. Then followed the note of the fine, an abstract of the writ of covenant and the concord, which was enrolled in the proper office; and the foot of the fine, containing the whole matter, engrossed in indentures by the chirographer, and delivered to the cognizor and cognizee. There were four kinds of fines, sur cognizance de droit come ceo que il ad de son done (fr.): a fine upon the acknowledgment of the right which the cognizee hath by; a feoffment of record; sur cognizance de droit tantum, upon acknowledgment of right merely; sur concessit, upon grant, by acknowledgment of a grant de novo, but of no precedent right; and sur don, grant, et render, upon gift, grant, and render, a combination of the first and third kinds.


Notes and References

  1. Based on A concise law dictionary of words, phrases and maxims, “Fine”, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911, United States. This term and/or definition may be absolete. It is also called the Stimson’s Law dictionary, based on a glossary of terms, included Fine.

See Also

Concept of Geld, Gild

Traditional meaning of geld, gild [1] in the Saxon law history: A payment, tribute, or fine. Money.

Note: For more information on Saxon Law history, see here.


Notes and References

  1. Based on A concise law dictionary of words, phrases and maxims, “Geld, Gild”, Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1911, United States. This term is absolete. It is also called the Stimson’s Law dictionary, based on a glossary of terms, included Geld, Gild.

See Also

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  • Article Name: Fine
  • Author: Agostino Von Hassell
  • Description: Definition of Fine In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Fine : 1. A sum of money that [...]

This entry was last updated: February 26, 2020


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