It is an unfortunate reality that, while we all think of our land as OURS, the State and Federal Governments never really let go. If they need to widen a road, build a new train line, add new electricity lines, or any of a myriad of other government supplied services, they take the land they need to do it, whether the owners like it or not. This process is called "Resumption".
Contrary to popular belief, however, this power is not able to exercised on a whim. You DO have the right to be informed before the land is taken, and you have a right to argue against the resumption. There may be a better alternative. The effects upon you, the landowner, may be so catastrophic that an alternative should be sought.
But you only get one chance. You are given a notice, giving you as little as 30 days to set out your written objection. You then must personally attend to argue your objection. If you don't do both of these things, your objections will be ignored.
We help our clients object - working within the legislation to ensure that only valid objections are raised, and you don't fail because you missed some procedural step. We then come with you, and argue your objection for you.
At a time like that, with so much at stake, you need a professional advocate at your side.
What happens next?
If your objection succeeds, the land is not resumed, and you can get back to your life. If your objection fails, and sometimes it will even with the best of representation, your land is resumed. That is not the end, however. If your land is resumed, you are entitled to compensation.
If you are unfortunate enough to have had your land resumed, then the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 gives you a right to compensation. You are entitled to be paid a fair figure for the loss that you suffer because of the resumption.
The assessment of this "fair figure" involves obtaining a valuation report, considering aspects such as the value of the land before the resumption, the value of the part of the land taken (if only part is taken, rather than the whole of your property), how this affects the value of what is left, and the effect upon the value of the remaining land of the work that the State will be doing on the land - for instance, if a new road is placed through your property, how the existence of that road affects the value of what is left of your land.
You also have a right to require the State to take the balance of your property if, after they resume the piece they need, what is left is too small or too awkward to be of any practical value to you.
If your land is resumed, it is up to you to make a claim for compensation. The Act governs how and to whom a claim for compensation must be made, and the form and content of that claim.
It is critical that this claim is prepared properly, because if agreement is not reached, then the Land Court determines the amount of compensation, based on your original claim.
There is also a provision for the State to apply to the Land Court, and obtain an assessment of the amount that they must pay to you, if you don't apply for compensation within 3 months. Worse, if you don't correctly follow the procedures set out in the Act, you may be prohibited from being heard when the amount of your compensation is determined.
Robbins Watson solicitors can help you through this legal maze.
- We can assist you in the preparation of the original claim for compensation, ensuring that you properly claim for all of your entitlements, and that claim is suitable for determination by the Land Court.
- We can help you negotiate with the resuming authority, and try and reach a fair figure without court proceedings.
- If the resuming authority is intractable, and will not agree to a fair figure, then we can help you obtain that compensation by an application to the Land Court.