Trial delayed for Vic jab challengers

·2-min read

There will be no trial for a group challenging Victoria's COVID-19 vaccination mandate until March next year.

Supreme Court Justice Melinda Richards says the "fruitless" actions of more than 120 people fighting against the state's jab directions mean she has no time to hear the case before the end of this year.

Even if she could fit in a trial - up to nine days - she wouldn't be in a position to hand down her decision until 2022.

Last week Justice Richards rejected a temporary bar on directives that employees in a number of industries must receive a COVID-19 vaccination to be able to continue working.

She suggested a reduction in the number of people challenging the orders - down from 129 - to expedite the case.

But on Friday she noted that hadn't happened and they continue to challenge the directives on a number of grounds.

"As the case is currently framed, even if we could somehow get to a point where I could reserve judgment before Christmas there is no prospect of a decision by the end of the year," she said.

The first ground alone alleges failures to comply with Victoria's Charter of Human Rights and accuses Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, among others, of limiting 17 of those individual rights.

"I have no idea as to how most of those rights are said to be limited and the plaintiffs are yet to articulate it," she said.

Jason Harkess, representing the challengers, pushed back against a trial date in early next year.

But Justice Richards reminded him that two of the plaintiffs - Belinda and Jack Cetnar - had previously had a trial date listed in October and had decided not to proceed with that case in favour of joining this one.

She said he had also spent a "fruitless" three weeks pushing for a temporary bar on the mandate when she had earlier suggested avoiding that and going straight to trial.

"That was soundly rejected by your clients," she said.

"We could have really had it underway by now."

Justice Richards has listed the case for a five to nine-day trial beginning on March 15.

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