The eastern Australian state of New South Wales on Tuesday scrapped 33,000 fines issued for breaking COVID-19 measures.
The move comes after the Supreme Court of Australia’s most populous state ruled that three fines issued during the pandemic were too vague in describing offenses.
What do we know about the decision?
State tax agency Revenue NSW said that it would withdraw “fail to comply” penalties, adding that those who had already paid the fines would be reimbursed. Other sanctions, including driver license restrictions, will be canceled.
The canceled fines represent just under half of the 62,138 COVID-related fines issued.
Revenue NSW said that the court ruling had a “technical basis” and did not mean that the offenses had not been committed.
“The Commissioner of Fines Administration is able to independently review or withdraw penalty notices,” said Revenue NSW in a statement.
“In this case, he has decided to exercise his statutory power to withdraw two types of Public Health Order fines,” it said.
Fines of up to $2,000
The Redfern Legal Centre, which launched the legal challenge, praised the Supreme Court’s “momentous” ruling.
The center was representing three plaintiffs who had been handed fines of between 1,000 ($670, €650) and 3,000 ($2,000, €1,950) Australian dollars.
“This case is about more than just two people’s fines. It is about the need to properly adhere to the rule of law, even during a pandemic,” center solicitor Samantha Lee said before the ruling.
“Today justice has been granted to three people who took on the NSW government regarding the validity of their COVID fines and won!” she said.
The organization also argued that fines were disproportionately issued to people living in poorer areas.
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