A case to cancel all remaining COVID fines has been filed in NSW

COVID fines handed out in NSW for breaches of public safety orders will be put under the microscope in a new trial lodged this month.

An official challenge seeking to cancel all remaining COVID fines in NSW has been filed in the state’s Supreme Court.

Police issued the fines for breaking COVID restrictions.

The Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) is seeking 29,000 fines to be scrapped after it successfully challenged the validity of 33,000 fines last year.

The previous case:

Last year’s court challenge found two types of COVID fines were invalid because they didn’t include enough detail about the offence committed.

Those fines were either withdrawn or refunded, and any other penalties imposed on the recipient, such as driving restrictions, were dropped.

At the time, the RLC said the judgement called into “disrepute” the remaining COVID fines, and asked the Government to withdraw them.

The court challenge:

The latest court challenge centres around one plaintiff who was handed a $3,000 fine for leaving Sydney without an eligible reason.

She was living out of her van at the time and waiting for a permit at the NSW border to travel to South Australia where she had been offered a place to live.

The RLC argues her fine should be repealed because it doesn’t meet the requirements specified in last year’s judgement.

The NSW Government’s response:

At the time of last year’s decision, Revenue NSW said the remaining fines weren’t affected by the decision and would still need to be paid.

It also said the decision to withdraw the fines “does not mean the offences were not committed”.

The backlash:

The RLC also argues it is “especially important” for fines to be withdrawn because “COVID fines were disproportionately issued to communities with a high proportion of First Nation populations and in low socio-economic areas”.

A report by the University of NSW found that “residents in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the state… were disproportionately affected”. The most affected areas were South-Western, Western Sydney and more broadly Western NSW.

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