This section sets out the information you should try to obtain from your client in the initial interview and in subsequent days. It also provides some guidance about advice the client should be provided with at the initial interview (for example, regarding timeframes, urgency and potential options).
When attending Homeless Law clinics, you may want to take these checklists with you to make sure you get as much relevant information as possible:
This instructions checklist provides guidance about the types of information you should try to obtain from the client at the initial interview. You do not need to go through it in an exhaustive way, but it’s a helpful prompt. Often clients will not have clear memories or records of these details, but piece together what you can.
Generally, Homeless Law clients meet the definition of special circumstances and so you should ensure that you obtain all the information you need to apply for an internal review (for infringements and penalty reminder notices) or an enforcement review (for notices of final demand/enforcement warrants) on the basis of special circumstances. If your client is relying on special circumstances, it means that your client is admitting to committing the offence and pleading guilty.
At the initial consultation, you should make sure that you give your client in-person advice about the relevant timeframes, risks (including of enforcement) and possible options available (see step-by-step guide).
In most cases, clients do not present with current and complete documents about their fines and it is not possible to obtain copies of original infringement notices.
If the client does provide copies of infringement notices, each notice will contain details about:
Once you have collated all the information and documents you can from the client, you should contact Fines Victoria requesting a current list of all of the client’s outstanding fines.
Fines Victoria is generally able to provide a record of notices of final demand, open court fines and enforcement warrants, as well as a copy of certain infringements and penalty reminder notices. You should check with Fines Victoria if there are particular agencies that they cannot provide the details of and contact those enforcement agencies directly.
You can make a request over the telephone (after providing a copy of your Authority to Act) to obtain these details. However, it is preferable to put the request in writing and send an email to Fines Victoria, in which case you can use the below templates:
Fines Victoria will generally respond to this type of a request relatively quickly, providing details of all outstanding notices of final demand, enforcement warrants and court-imposed fines. An example of a list of outstanding infringements is available here.
For many infringement notices or penalty reminder notices, you will need to contact the enforcement agencies directly.
The contact details of the enforcement agencies that Homeless Law clients commonly receive fines from and Fines Victoria are below:
Once you have obtained details of all of the outstanding fines, you should contact your client to advise them about the current status of their fines and their options. Depending on the circumstances of the client, the best way to communicate this advice may be either by telephone, face-to-face or by letter. Once you have advised a client of their options, you must obtain their instructions on how to proceed.
If your client has already provided you with general instructions on how to proceed, you should then contact the client to advise the current status of their fines and confirm their instructions.
Generally, Homeless Law clients meet the definition of special circumstances and may instruct you to seek:
Please keep in mind all applicable limitation periods and key dates involved with these applications.
For fines where withdrawal or enforcement review is not available (for example, open court fines or fines for excessive speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol), other options will need to be discussed with the client (including, for example, a Work and Development Permit or a payment arrangement).
When explaining the special circumstances process, please advise your client about the following key considerations before confirming their instructions:
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