There are calls to withdraw all COVID-19 fines issued under emergency pandemic orders after the state government conceded in court that more the half of the penalties were not valid. Revenue NSW announced yesterday that 33,121 of the 62,138 fines handed out since the start of the pandemic would be cancelled. Refunds will be given if the fines are already paid, and enforcement action will cease if not.
The decision follows a test case in the NSW Supreme Court that argued two fines issued during 2021 lockdowns were invalid because they did not adequately describe the alleged offence, as required under the Fines Act. A barrister for the Commissioner of Fines Administration conceded in court that the fines were invalid for this reason, and Revenue NSW announced the mass cancellation a short time later.
“This case has set a precedent that all of those fines are invalid and should never have been issued,” said Samantha Lee, acting principal solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, which brought the case. “It does have the potential to invalidate all COVID fines that were issued during the lockdown period.” Other lawyers and advocates have called for the 29,000 remaining fines to be reviewed or cancelled, but a spokesperson for Revenue NSW said they are not affected by this decision. Photo: Steven Siewert
Read Georgina Mitchell’s report
Analysis: Lawyers warned early on that fines would not stand up to scrutiny. They were right, writes Jordan Baker.