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Court orders for compensation and restitution

Court orders for compensation and restitution

This information covers what happens when a court in a criminal case makes any of the following orders when an offender is found guilty of an offence:

  • Order that the fine imposed on the offender be paid to the victim(s)
  • Order that the offender pay the victim(as) an amount of money as compensation
  • Order that property be returned to the victim(s) (Note: the court can also order a third party to do this).

What happens if a fine ordered by a court has been made payable to a victim?

If an offender is found guilty of the offence of assault, the court may make an order that any fine imposed on the offender has to be paid to the victim.

The offender does not pay this money to the victim directly. The offender must pay the fine to the court and the court will pass the money on to the victim. The court does not pay the victim out of its own funds. 

The payment of the fine by the offender can be enforced in the same way as other fines. For more information see Fines. If the money is received by the court it will be paid to the victim.

What is a reparation order?

There are two sorts of reparation orders that can be made by a criminal court:

  • compensation orders
  • restitution orders.

What is a restitution order?

A restitution order is an order that an offender or third party return property to the victim within a set time. Usually, the property will have been seized by police and it will be the police who return it to the victim.

A restitution order can be enforced by the sheriff if it is not complied with.

What is a compensation order ?

A compensation order is an order that the offender pay an amount of money to the victim as compensation for:

  • loss of or damage to their property, and
  • for any expenses they have reasonably incurred.

The compensation order cannot cover the type of injury or loss that would be covered under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA).

A compensation order can be enforced as a judgment debt through the appropriate court.  It is the responsibility of the victim to follow up to enforce this order.

How is a reparation order made?

The court can decide to make a reparation order without any application.

A victim of an offence or a prosecutor can apply for a reparation order to be made by the court.

An application for an order can be made :

  • orally or in writing (using an approved form available from the court) when the offender is being sentenced, or
  • in writing (using an approved form) within 12 months after the date the offender was sentenced.

What happens if a compensation order is made?

The court does not pay the victim this money out of its own funds. The victim will have to get the money from the offender  through the court's enforcement process, unless the offender voluntarily pays it.

If the amount payable under a compensation order has not been paid to the victim within 28 days from the date of the order, the victim can enforce it in the relevant court, eg the Magistrates Court of WA if that court made the order. Amounts of $75,000 and less would be enforced through the Magistrates Court of WA.

To enforce the order the victim needs to:

  • get a certified copy of the order available free of charge from the court making the order; and
  • lodge with the relevant court, the certified copy of the order and an affidavit stating what if any compensation has been paid by the offender.

The victim does not have to pay for a certified copy of the order or to lodge it.

Once it has been lodged, the compensation order is taken to be a judgment of the Magistrates Court and can be enforced in the same way as any other judgment. See If they still do not pay - enforcement process for how to enforce a judgment of the Magistrates Court of WA.

Can I make an application for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA) for being injured even though I have been awarded compensation by a criminal court?

If a compensation or restitution order is made in your favour you may still:

  • make a claim for criminal injuries compensation
  • pursue a common law claim through the courts.

In an application under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (WA), the assessor has to make the assessment without considering the compensation set under a compensation order. In any other action, the person getting the award is only entitled to recover an amount equal to the amount (if any) by which the award exceeds the compensation order.

Is it possible to appeal a decision to make or not make a reparation order?

It is possible to appeal a court's decision to make or not make a reparation order. Different time limits apply depending on which court made the decision. Get legal advice.

Where can I get more information?

Last reviewed: 06/03/2013

Last modified: 15/04/2015 12:44 PM


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.