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Dealing with open court fines

Important changes from 31 December 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.

If your client presents with open court fines, it means that he or she has been found guilty of committing an offence in open court and a Magistrate has sentenced your client to pay a fine under the Sentencing Act

There are a number of ways that your client's matter may be referred to open court, including because: 

  • it was referred to open court during the infringements process; or
  • your client received a charge and summons sheet alleging a criminal offence against your client and requiring him or her to attend open court on a particular date to answer a charge.

If the Magistrate has ordered an instalment plan, your client has to attend the court and make the payment directly to the registry (i.e. Centrepay is not possible). 

What options does your client have?

The options for dealing with fines imposed in open court are as follows:

It is not possible to apply for revocation of fines imposed by a court as a sentencing disposition under the Sentencing Act.