Requesting written reasons from Fines Victoria

Last updated: 08 Sep 2021

In certain circumstances, there is a right to request the reasons behind an administrative decision. 

Under s 8(1) of the Administrative Law Act 1978 (Vic) (ALA), a tribunal shall, if requested to do so by any person affected by a decision made or to be made by it, provide the person affected with a statement of its reasons for the decision. 

Has a ‘decision’ been made? 

Under the ALA, a ‘decision’ is a decision operating in law to determine a question affecting the rights of any person or to grant, deny, terminate, suspend or alter a privilege or licence. The definition of ‘decision’ includes a refusal or failure to perform a duty, or to exercise a power to make such a decision: s 2 ALA. 

Who has standing to request reasons? 

Only a ‘person affected’ by a decision can request reasons under s 8(1) ALA.  

A ‘person affected’ is defined as someone whose interest may be affected, directly or indirectly, and to a substantial degree, by a decision which has been made or is to be made or ought to have been made by the tribunal: s 2 ALA 

The person’s interest must be greater than the interest of other members of the public, however, the person does not have to be a party to proceedings.  

It seems apparent that a person impacted by a decision of Fines Victoria in relation to their infringements would fall within this definition. 

Who is a ‘tribunal’ under the ALA?  

Only decisions made by tribunals give rise to a right to request reasons: see s 8 ALA 

A tribunal is a person, or body of persons, who in arriving at the decision in question, is or are by law required, whether by express direction or not, to act in a judicial manner to the extent of observing one or more of the rules of natural justice: s 2 ALA.   

Courts are willing to regard various bodies as owing a duty of procedural fairness. For example, a medical panel tasked with answering medical questions about a person’s capacity to work is bound to observe the rules of natural justice in favour of those whose rights are liable to be affected by its opinion: Sherlock v Lloyd & Ors [2008] VSC 450 at [13]. 

Fines Victoria  

Fines Victoria in determining enforcement review applications likely constitutes a ‘Tribunal’ for the purposes of s 2 ALA due to its obligations to accord natural justice. Fines Victoria’s guide to enforcement review states:  

The Director’s decision-making process takes place within the legal framework of the Fines Reform Act and administrative law principles. Decisions are made in accordance with legislation and departmental guidelines. 

This means that:  

  • the review and decision will be carried out in accordance with the law
  • the review will be fair (for example, there will be no bias or conflict of interest)
  • all relevant matters will be considered and no irrelevant matters will be considered
  • proper consideration will be given to your human rights, and
  • you will be given information about the outcome of your application and the reason for the decision. 

Please see Requesting Reasons from Decision Makers for further information, including: How to make a request for reasons? Should a request for reasons be made? What to do once a request has been made.

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