Meaning of Special circumstances

The meaning of special circumstances has been amended in section 3A of the Infringements Act 2006.

This ground of review is designed to divert those with special circumstances from the infringements system at the earliest opportunity.

The existing sub-grounds are kept in the new meaning, but the required link between the special circumstance and offending has been simplified.

A new sub-ground, relating to a person’s ability to deal with the fine, has been added.

Nexus test change

The previous test required a person to show that their circumstances resulted in them being unable to understand or control their offending behaviour

The new test means that a person now needs to show that their circumstances contributed to them having a significantly reduced capacity to understand or control their offending behaviour.

 The decision maker must now be satisfied that:

  • the person experiences a mental or intellectual disability, disorder, disease or illness, a serious drug/ alcohol/volatile substance addiction, homelessness, or family violence, and
  • the condition or circumstances contributed to the applicant having a significantly reduced capacity
    • to control their conduct (for all of the above sub-grounds), or
    • to understand their conduct (for the mental illness or intellectual disability, or substance addiction sub-grounds).

Special circumstances: new category recognising long-term circumstances

The new long-term circumstances category is for fine recipients who are experiencing extremely serious circumstances that are long-term in nature and mean that it is impracticable for the person to pay or otherwise deal with their infringement fine.

This category is only intended to apply to a very small cohort of fine recipients who have long-term and extremely serious circumstances that:

  • may not have been present at the time of offending
  • are particularly disabling or incapacitating in nature, and
  • result in the person being unable to pay or otherwise deal with their infringement fine.

The definition excludes any circumstances that solely or predominantly relate to the person’s financial circumstances.

Further information

The information contained on this page is general guidance intended for enforcement agencies.  It should not be relied upon as legal advice.  Agencies should obtain their own legal advice to ensure that their internal review practices are legally compliant.

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