NSW revenue cancels over 33,000 COVID-19 fines following Supreme Court ruling

The NSW government will revoke more than 33,000 COVID-19 fines, following a Supreme Court ruling today.

Earlier today, Justice Dina Yehia SC found two fines between $1,000 and $3,000 did not meet the requirements of Section 20 of the Fines Act.

It was the thin end of the wedge and caused more than half of the breaches issued under NSW’s COVID-19 restrictions to be withdrawn soon after.

The case focused on the technical basis. The notices did not provide a sufficiently detailed description of the crime committed and were therefore invalid.

In a statement following the ruling, Revenue NSW confirmed it would withdraw 33,121 fines.

A total of 62,128 COVID-related breaches were issued in the state during the pandemic.

“If fines are withdrawn, all sanctions, including driver’s license restrictions or seizure, will cease,” the statement said.

“If a penalty has been withdrawn and a customer has made a payment – in whole or in part – the NSW tax authorities will be in touch to arrange a refund or credit the payment against other outstanding debts.”

a woman talking outside a courtroom
Lawyer Samantha Lee called the decision “extraordinary”.(Facebook: Redfern Legal Center)

The agency also noted that it “didn’t mean the violations weren’t committed” and “the remaining 29,017 fines will still have to be paid if not resolved.”

Earlier, David Kell SC, representing the NSW Commissioner of Fines Administration, warned the court that the two breaches did not meet the requirements of the law.

Mr Kell said the court should be “cautious” in throwing out the fines as it would set a precedent in the area.

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