The fines system in Victoria offers the option to pay a fixed penalty when a building offence is committed rather than going to court.
In some cases, you will be issued with a penalty in the form of an infringement notice (a fine) for offences. Depending on the offence, you may receive a fine on the spot, or in the post.
If you don't deal with your fine by the due date, the matter will become more serious and additional fees or costs may be added.
More information about infringements is below.
BINs are independent of prosecutions. You can be prosecuted for an offence without being served with a BIN. Those who do not follow a BIN are also not always prosecuted.
BINs enforce compliance. Proceedings are usually brought when there has been a failure to follow a BIN. FRV has the power to prosecute at its discretion.
In some circumstances, there is a duty to prosecute when the person who has been served with a BIN elects for proceedings to commence and be heard in the Magistrates Court (refer to sections 16 and 30 of the Infringements Act). If this was to occur, FRV would need to begin a prosecution for the infringement offence.
Other than the penalty imposed by the BIN itself, there is no penalty for failing to follow a BIN. FRV also does not have any mechanism for compelling a person to carry out any additional steps required by a BIN other than to prosecute for failure to comply with the BIN.
The prescribed offences for the purposes of the definition of ‘prescribed offence’ in section 254 of the Act are, offences against regulations: 199(2), 216(2), 223(1), 223(2), 225, 226(1), 227 and 228 of the Building Regulations.
FRV may serve a building infringement notice or commence legal proceedings against building owners or occupiers in respect of the above regulations.
A person may apply for the decision to serve the infringement notice to be reviewed if they believe:
The decision was contrary to law, or involved a mistake of identity;
Special circumstances apply; or
The infringing conduct should be excused because of certain exception circumstances.
The Attorney-General's Guidelines to the Infringements Act 2006 provides guidelines for this process.
An application must be made before the period for bringing proceedings before the offence expires. This means for BINs that is three years from the date of the commission of the infringement offence.
Only one internal review can be requested in relation to each infringement notice.
Applications for review must be made to the Fire Rescue Commissioner.
Once an application is received, any procedures being used to enforce the BIN will be suspended, and a review will be decided within 90 days.
If the review has not been completed after 90 days, the BIN is deemed to be withdrawn.
The Fire Rescue Commissioner must ensure that the person reviewing the decision was not involved in making it.
If FRV needs more information to conduct the review, a request can be made in writing.
At the conclusion of the review, FRV must send the applicant a written notice advising of the outcome within 21 days.
Once FRV has reviewed the decision to issue a BIN, FRV can confirm, withdraw or alter the relevant infringement notice.
Where a decision is confirmed, the BIN stands. The obligations under that notice remain, and the applicant remains liable to pay the infringement penalty.
Additionally, FRV can alter the infringement notice in the following ways:
Change any steps prescribed in the original notice, in a manner consistent with the law
Waive any costs associated with the infringement (other than the penalty itself)
Introduce an approved payment plan
If the application for review was made on the basis that 'special circumstances' apply, the enforcement agency may only:
Confirm the notice and refer the matter to Court;
Withdraw the notice and substitute it with an official warning; or
Withdraw the notice completely.
The Infringements Act defines 'special circumstances' as a mental or intellectual disability, disorder, illness or disease, serious addiction to drugs, alcohol or a volatile substance, or homelessness.
Reference to 'special circumstances' is also made in the Attorney-General's Guidelines to the Infringements Act 2006.
If the applicant for internal review elects to have the matter determined in a Court, the internal review process is terminated upon the making of that election.
Reviewed 16 September 2021