On 1 September 2022, Phi Finney McDonald and Inner Melbourne Legal Centre launched a class action against the Victorian State Government relating to Victoria Police’s use of capsicum spray against protesters at the 2019 International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne.

Am I eligible for this class action?

You may be eligible to register for this class action if you:

  1. attended the 2019 IMARC protest; and
  2. were pushed, crashed, grabbed or sprayed with capsicum spray by Victoria Police.

If you think you are eligible, we encourage you to register now.


Registering for the class action

Registration is free. Registering is not a commitment to participate in the class action.

All information you provide will be kept strictly confidential by Phi Finney McDonald and Inner Melbourne Legal Centre.

There are some benefits to registering:

  • You will receive regular updates about the case.
  • We can contact you if you become eligible for compensation.
  • Information about your experience may help us achieve a better outcome.

You can register your interest via our online form, or by sending your name and contact details to: classactions@phifinneymcdonald.com.


How a class action works

A class action is a case led by one or more people on behalf of a group of other people, called “group members”.

Class actions can be an efficient way of allowing people to make a claim against the one defendant. A class action can be a viable way of taking legal action when an individual claim is not because factors such as cost or resources.

If a class action is unsuccessful, group members are not typically liable for the costs of the defendant. This mean that class actions can level the playing field against well-resourced defendants.

The case is being run by Phi Finney McDonald and Inner Melbourne Community Legal on a ‘No-Win, No-Fee basis’.

This means that group members participating in the IMARC class action will not be out of pocket for legal cost incurred in the conduct of the case.

About the case

Between 29 and 31 October 2019, protestors demonstrated outside the IMARC conference in Melbourne to oppose the mining industry’s violation of human rights, dispossession of First Nations people, exploitation of workers and to highlight climate justice.

The demonstration drew a significant number of protestors and a large police presence. The conduct of Victoria Police drew criticism, including in relation to the use of capsicum spray against groups of people exercising their right to protest.

Capsicum spray, known as Oleoresin Capsicum foam (OC foam), contains an extremely high concentration of capsaicin, a chemical found in chilli peppers, which can cause significant injuries and potentially permanent disabilities.

The claim alleges that the use of OC foam on protestors was unlawful, and argues the use of OC foam breaches the law when used as a coercive tool, or where there is no immediate or proportionate threat to police officers or the public.

In addition to seeking compensation for any eligible person who attended the IMARC protests, the class action aims to protect the right to protest without fear of heavy-handed police tactics and to get the court’s view on the circumstances in which police are authorised to use OC foam.

The class action also seeks to highlight important issues such as the ever-broadening scope of police powers, protection of protest rights and the scope of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.