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What options does your client have if a warrant has been issued but not executed?

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.

It is important that you advise your client of the risks of enforcement if your client is issued with a warrant.  If your client has been issued with a seven day notice, it is extremely important that you advise your client to take immediate action to avoid the warrant being executed.

If the warrant has not yet been executed, your client will have similar options as at the enforcement order stage, namely:

  1. Contact the sheriff: Subject to the client's instructions, it is worthwhile contacting the sheriff to inform them that you are assisting the client to prepare a special circumstances application and to ask for enforcement to be put on hold and a note of this to be made on their system. The sheriff will not usually guarantee that they will not execute the warrant but they will usually try to delay based on this request.  It is important that you do not disclose your client's current address in these conversations. 
  2. Apply for revocation (or cancellation) of the enforcement orders if there are sufficient grounds (including on the basis of special circumstances or because your client was not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence).
  3. Apply for a payment plan or an extension. 
  4. Pay in full.

If your client has received a seven day notice, you should lodge an application for revocation or a payment plan with the supporting material that is available (for example, a short letter from a GP setting out the client's circumstances) as soon as possible.  This is because under section 90(2) of the Infringements Act, no step may be taken in the execution of an infringement warrant if a person has made an application under sections 76 (for a payment order) or 65 (for revocation) until the application is determined.

You should not wait until you have comprehensive material as even a brief application is likely to result in a hold on execution until further evidence is gathered.  In Homeless Law’s experience, the Infringements Registrar will request more information rather than reject the application outright.  If the Infringements Registrar does reject the application outright, a second application can be made under section 65(4) of the Infringements Act once further evidence has been compiled. 

Once a warrant has been executed, your client will have only very limited options.  Significantly, your client will no longer be able to apply for revocation of the enforcement order on the basis of special circumstances.  If the infringement warrant has been executed, click here to find out what your client's options are.