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33,121 COVID fines to be scrapped: How to get your refund

A group of police patrolling the beach during COVID-19 lockdowns to issue fines and a person removing $100 notes from a wallet.
Thousands of COVID-19 fines will be withdrawn in NSW. (Source: Getty)

Rohan Pank was sitting on a park bench in August 2021 when he was hit with a $1,000 fine by NSW Police for breaching COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, but the Supreme Court deemed his fine - and more than 33,000 others - should be scrapped.

Thousands of fines worth millions of dollars will be withdrawn by the state’s revenue agency after the court found the details of the offences were insufficient.

Revenue NSW said 33,121 fines would be scrapped following the decision, meaning roughly half of the 62,138 COVID-related fines issued during the pandemic would no longer be valid.

Justice Dina Yehia accepted evidence given on Tuesday that the fines were not valid because they did not include a sufficiently detailed description of the offences.

How to get your fine refunded

Millions of dollars will now be refunded to thousands of Aussies who have already paid their fine.

Revenue NSW will be responsible for refunding the fines and the money should be returned to those who are eligible without having to apply.

Revenue NSW said the decision to withdraw the fines did not mean the offences had not been committed.

"The Commissioner of Fines Administration is able to independently review or withdraw penalty notices," Revenue NSW said in a statement.

"In this case, he has decided to exercise his statutory power to withdraw two types of public-health-order fines."

Why are the fines being refunded?

The case was launched by the Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) on behalf of Brenden Beame, Teal Els and Rohan Pank, who were each fined between $1,000 and $3,000.

Pank's fine was withdrawn before the case went to court, with the state agreeing to pay his legal fees.

Justice Yehia ordered the state to refund $436 to Beame and $826 to Els, and said the men could also file applications to have their legal costs paid.

The RLC revealed that COVID-19 fines were disproportionately issued to those living in low-socio-economic areas.

"During the lockdown, we were bombarded by calls from people who had been issued with COVID fines, so today we're ecstatic, it's a real win for the people," RLC acting principal solicitor Samantha Lee told AAP.

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