n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Die boete as straf in die Duitse reg

Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



One of the recommendations in a report by the South African Law Reform Commission on reform of sentencing (2000) was that the method of determination of the amount of fines, as a form of sentence for criminal activities, be reconsidered. In particular, it was recommended that a day fine system be considered. Day fine systems are known to link the amount of the fine more directly to the means of offenders than the fixed sum system currently employed in South Africa. However, the practical operation of a day fine system is largely unknown outside those countries where it is employed. Such countries include some of the Scandinavian countries, as well as Germany, the system which is the focus of this article. A day fine system typically involves two separate sentencing actions. The first action amounts to determining the number of penalty units, based mainly on the seriousness of the crime. In German law a daily tariff serves as the penalty unit, and from five to 360 daily tariffs may be imposed. The value of the tariff is determined by the average daily net income of the offender. This may range from €1 tot €5 000. The amount of the fine is calculated by multiplying the number of daily tariffs with the amount of a tariff. Determining the net income of the offender is one of the biggest practical problems of the scheme. Payment of fines is enforced by the prosecution service. The article concludes that the imposition and enforcement of fines in German law are very successful. Not only are fines imposed for between 80 and 85% of all crimes committed in Germany, but 90% of the fines are eventually collected.

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