The government of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia has conceded that two COVID-19 fines challenged in the state’s Supreme Court are invalid.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the move opens the door for more than 30,000 other people to have fines worth A$30 million cancelled.
Australia’s states imposed strict restrictions on travel and gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic
Redfern Legal Centre, a free legal service, launched a test case in July on behalf of three plaintiffs, arguing their fines of between A$1,000 to A$3,000, were invalid because the penalty notices did not sufficiently describe the offence.
In a hearing at the New South Wales Supreme Court, NSW government lawyers conceded that the plaintiffs' fines did not meet legal requirements.
Crown Advocate David Kell, SC, said his client – the Commissioner of Fines Administration in NSW – consented to a declaration that the fines issued were invalid.
He said that it “may be taken as likely” that his client’s concession would have consequences for other penalty notices, but said that other cases might have different factual circumstances.
"Today, justice has been granted to three people who took on the NSW government regarding the validity of their COVID fines and won," said Samantha Lee, acting solicitor for the plaintiffs.
One of the clients, Rohan Pank, had his fine for sitting in a park withdrawn after the case was filed.
Revenue NSW said that the challenge was on a "technical basis", and the court's decision did not mean the offences had not been committed.