Our client, in his mid-twenties from China, is currently on a bridging visa waiting to apply for permanent residency. He is a collector of automobiles.
He had a friend, whom he had known from China, who was suffering financial hardship and, as such, was living with our client while our client paid rent. The friend also borrowed our client’s cars.
The friend incurred a few fines which our client received, and our client had asked him to pay those fines. The friend agreed but ultimately, never paid the fines. Our client would go to study every day and then at nights would do some labouring work to earn an income to the extent that his visa allowed him to work. During the hours when our client was not home, the friend would be driving cars around. The friend was also the only one home to collect the mail and as such our client never received the mails.
The friend moved out in 2013. Our client was aware that a few fines were personally incurred so he called Civic Compliance to get a payment plan arranged. Civic Compliance advised that he had 250 fines totalling just over $71,000, and not just a couple of fines.
After the initial shock, our client looked into the matter. He tried to nominate but missed the deadline and, as such, his revocation application was refused. Our client was proactive and contacted the sheriff. The sheriff then served a 7-day notice and our client was subsequently arrested and bailed.
Dee Giannopoulos acted on the client’s behalf at the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court. The following circumstances were put to the magistrate:
- the majority of the fines were not incurred by our client
- when the client found out, he attempted to nominate but was ultimately refused because of the delay in nomination
- our client contacted the sheriff to get the matter dealt with
This showed active steps to resolve the matter.
If our client defaulted on a payment plan imposed by the court for $71,000, he would owe 460 days in gaol.
We were successful in convincing the magistrate to exercise discretion and to discharge two-thirds of the fines. Our client walked away with $50,000 less debt and on a reasonable payment plan of $100 per month. It is still attached to an imprisonment in lieu order but he would now be liable to 158 days on default rather than 1 year and 3 months.