A fresh court challenge by the Redfern Legal Centre hopes to cancel all remaining COVID-19-related fines in NSW.
It follows a 2022 ruling by the NSW Supreme Court that deemed two COVID fines invalid, resulting in the state government refunding over 33,000 fines issued by the NSW Police during pandemic restrictions in 2020 and 2021.
The Court found the two test cases, brought by Redfern Legal Centre, did not provide sufficient detail about the offence committed and are therefore invalid under section 20 of the Fines Act 1996 (NSW).
In a statement on November 29, 2022, Revenue NSW said, “this decision does not mean the offences were not committed.”
“The remaining 29,017 COVID-19 fines will still be required to be paid if not already resolved. They are not affected by this decision.”
Instructing senior solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, Samantha Hill, hopes this new case, which involves just one of the more than 29,000 fines not withdrawn by Revenue NSW, will put pressure on the government to do so.
“It is our position that all the remaining 29,000 COVID fines fail to meet the legal requirements as outlined in the recent Supreme Court judgment and are therefore invalid.
“We expected Revenue NSW to withdraw all remaining COVID fines following the Supreme Court’s judgment earlier this year, but this has not occurred.
“We are filing this case because the fine system in NSW needs to be fair and abide by the rule of law. Fines can have a crippling impact on those who are socially and financially disadvantaged. We know from statistics obtained from NSW Police that COVID fines were disproportionately issued to communities with a high proportion of First Nation populations and in low socio-economic areas. It is therefore especially important that fines that are invalid are withdrawn.”
The first directions hearing in the NSW Supreme Court is scheduled on July 25, 2023, and solicitor Lee believes this case is as strong as the last case.