The NSW government has admitted that two COVID-19 fines being challenged in a Supreme Court test case are invalid, opening the door for more than 30,000 other people to have fines worth $30 million canceled, a told court.
Redfern Legal Center filed the case on behalf of three of its clients who received fines ranging from $1000 to $3000 during the 2021 public health lockdowns. One of the clients, Rohan Pank, had his fine for sitting in a park revoked after the case was filed.
It was alleged in the case that the description of the violation on the fine was so vague that it did not comply with the law, rendering the violations invalid.
On Tuesday, Crown Attorney David Kell, SC, said his client, the NSW Commissioner of Fines Administration, accepted that the two remaining fines did not adequately state or describe the violation, and thus did not meet the requirements of section 20 of the Fines Act.
Kell said his client agreed to a statement that the fines imposed were invalid. However, he questioned whether the court should issue additional orders to halt the enforcement of the fines and return money.
He said it is “considered likely” that his client’s concession would affect other fines, but said other cases may have different factual circumstances.
Katherine Richardson, SC, acting for prosecutors Brenden Beame and Teal Els, said Els was fined $3,000 for “unlawful participation in an out-of-home public meeting.”
She said NSW revenue statistics showed at least 163 people had been fined the same, while 580 others had been fined with very similar terms.