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Application for revocation if the client has ‘special circumstances’

Important changes from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017, the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) was changed as part of Victoria's fines reform process, including new ‘social justice initiatives' that affect people experiencing vulnerability. On 31 December 2017, the Fines Reform Act 2014 (Vic) commenced, creating Fines Victoria. This resulted in significant further changes to the infringements system and substantially shorter timeframes for dealing with infringements and fines.

Please be aware of these reforms in relation to any infringements assistance that you are providing to your clients.

We are in the process of updating Homeless Law in Practice. Justice Connect Homeless Law pro bono lawyers should read our further materials about the changes here (password needed), before doing any fines work after 1 July 2017. Please speak to your supervising lawyer, team leader or Homeless Law staff for more information.

The Infringements Act does not expressly provide that the fact that 'special circumstances' apply to a person is a sufficient ground for the Infringements Registrar to revoke an enforcement order. However, section 65(1)(c) of the Infringements Act contemplates that an application under section 65 of the Infringements Act may be made on behalf of a person to whom special circumstances apply. 

The Attorney-General's Guidelines also refer to the making of an application under section 65 as a way for people with special circumstances to be diverted out of the infringements system to the Special Circumstances List of the Magistrates' Court. Accordingly, if a client has special circumstances, you may apply for revocation on your client's behalf on the ground of special circumstances under section 65.

The definition of 'special circumstances' is discussed here

How to make an application for revocation if the client has 'special circumstances'

An application for revocation under section 65 of the Infringements Act may be made by a person acting on the applicant's behalf, such as a lawyer, case worker, parent or guardian, medical practitioner, financial counsellor or psychiatrist. 

The application does not need to be accompanied by a statutory declaration.

An application form can be downloaded here (Form B).   Civic Compliance Victoria has provided a sample completion guide which provides detailed instructions on how to fill out this application form.

It is important that applications for revocation on the basis of special circumstances satisfy the definition of 'special circumstances' under section 3 of the Infringements Act.  Accordingly, we recommend that HPLC lawyers write a letter accompanying the application form which explains that:

  • the person experiences one or more of the relevant conditions (i.e. mental illness, substance dependence and/or homelessness);
  • they experienced that condition at the time of the offences; and
  • the condition meant that the person was unable to understand or control the conduct that constituted the offences. 

This letter provides an example of how this causal connection between a person's condition and the offending conduct can be explained when applying for revocation on the basis of special circumstances.    

Other information that may be included in the cover letter accompanying the application for revocation includes:

  • any rehabilitative or restorative treatment undertaken by the client;
  • the client's weekly income and expenses; and
  • how payment of the outstanding amounts would exacerbate the client's condition or cause further hardship.

It is also extremely important to provide support letters or reports for the application (see supporting documentation). 

Where your client has a mixture of outstanding enforcement orders, some of which are eligible for a revocation application and others which are not (for example because they are for excessive speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol), you should prepare separate letters:

The application should be sent to:

Infringements Registrar
Infringements Court
PO Box 14487
Melbourne City Mail Centre VIC 8001

Before making the application, make sure you have given the client clear advice and obtained their express instructions to lodge the application.  Refer to 'advising the client of their options' for guidance in relation to this advice.

These sections regarding revocation also apply in relation to applications for revocation on the basis of special circumstances:

  • When is the option to apply for revocation not available?
  • What happens if the Infringements Registrar is satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for revocation?
  • What happens if the Infringements Registrar is not satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for revocation?