Maurice Blackburn wins helmet camera appeal in County Court

12 February 2016
The case against a Victorian motorcyclist fined for having cameras attached to his helmet has been thrown out by a County Court judge on appeal.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers acted on behalf of Max Lichtenbaum, who was fined $289 and lost three demerit points after being pulled over by police in Frankston in March 2014 for wearing a helmet with cameras affixed.

Mr Lichtenbaum was found guilty in the Frankston Magistrates Court last year of not wearing an approved motorcycle helmet.

The firm appealed the magistrate’s decision, arguing successfully that the Australian Standard governing motorcycle helmets was not made freely accessible to the public by VicRoads, therefore, riders could not be found guilty of breaching a standard that was not publically available.

In handing down his decision in the County Court today, Judge John Jordan said: “I am not satisfied with the magistrate’s order and dismiss the charge”. 

Maurice Blackburn also argued during the appeal hearing that motorcycle helmets in Victoria needed to meet the relevant standard at the date of manufacture and supply. It was submitted that this meant helmets could not be considered non-compliant at a later date, such as if a camera was attached.

But because the first argument was accepted by Judge Jordan, he did not need to rule on the latter argument.

Maurice Blackburn principal Malcolm Cumming said the firm would continue lobbying for legislative change in relation to this aspect of the case.

“We need to get clarity and confirmation for motorcycle riders in Victoria that approval of the relevant standard applies at the date of manufacture and supply, and not beyond,” Mr Cumming said. “That will bring Victoria in line with the explicit position in Queensland, South Australia and, as of December last year, the ACT.”

He described the today’s appeal result as “a long time coming”.

“Since the matter was first brought to us by the Victorian Motorcycle Council, and preceded through various incarnations at the Frankston Magistrates Court where there was ultimately an unsuccessful outcome, then to appeal that outcome in the County Court and get a favourable result today, is fantastic and we’re all very pleased.”

Mr Lichtenbaum described the case as “very stressful,” but added: “I’m pleased that after two years it’s now over. I’m very safety conscious and put these cameras on my helmet at the time mainly for safety reasons. I feel safer knowing that if I have an accident I’ve got proof of what happened.”

Peter Baulch, from the Victorian Motorcycle Council, said the appeal was “a win for common sense”.

“This puts pressure now on VicRoads and regulatory authorities to recognise what they call at the national level as regulatory harmonisation. We poor motorcyclists simply call it uniform road rules right around Australia and that’s what’s needed,” he said. “We have the same problem with lane filtering, where it’s legal in some states and not others, and states are starting to recognise the importance of having uniformity, but Victoria has just been a bit slow in toeing the line.”

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