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Going to court

Homeless clients will sometimes receive a more favourable outcome in court than under the infringements system. This is because the Magistrates' Court is often better equipped to consider and respond to the individual circumstances of a person than the 'automated' infringements system with its fixed penalties. This is particularly so if the client appears before a Magistrate or judicial registrar in the Special Circumstances List because those decision makers have specialist experience dealing with homeless people and an understanding of the range of issues that people experiencing homelessness might be faced with.

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.

This section sets out details about the different types of open court hearings and tips for appearing in the Magistrates' Court.

It deals with the following types of hearings:

It also deals with consolidating multiple hearings into one hearing (ideally in the Special Circumstances List).