Land and Environment Court

​​​​​​​​​Welcome to the website of the NSW Land and Environment Court.

The Land and Environment Court hears environmental, development, building and planning disputes. Read more.

Latest News

New Criminal Filings Email Address

14 October 2020

The Court has a new dedicated email address for criminal proceedings:

Parties in Class 5, 6 and 7 criminal proceedings and appeals can now file summons, appeals, notices of motion and subpoenas and seek directions and access orders for subpoenas and notices to produce using the email address instead of

Notices of Motion Before the Registrar

6 October 2020

The Court's use of Online Court is expanding to include the adjudication of Notices of Motion that are listed for return before the Registrar.

The default mode of listing of a Notice of Motion in Classes 1 and 2 will remain by telephone before the Registrar. However, parties can request to have a Notice of Motion listed for adjudication using Online Court or other means (by Teams or in person) if considered appropriate and in accordance with the Court's COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy.

Parties can request an alternative mode for the listing of Notice of Motion by:

  1. indicating the preferred mode of listing on the Notice of Motion (if not the default);
  2. submitting an Online Court request; or
  3. requesting an adjournment to an alternative mode of listing at the return of the Notice of Motion before the Registrar.

Observing Proceedings by Microsoft Teams

25 September 2020

The Court has published new information for members of the public that wish to observe Court proceedings conducted by Microsoft Teams. The procedure is available here.

2019 Annual Review

31 July 2020

The Court's Annual Review for 2019 is now available.

New Subpoena Practices Practice Note

21 July 2020

The Practice Note - Subpoena Practices dated 7 May 2015 has been replaced with a new Practice Note that explains the process for access and production of material through the eSubpoena portal.

The new Practice Note commences on 22 July 2020.

Judicial Newsletter

17 July 2020

Volume 12 Issue 2 (June 2020) of the Court's Judicial Newsletter is now available.

COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy

1 July 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy is replaced by a new Policy effective from 8 July 2020. The new Policy sets out arrangements for the staged return to face-to-face attendances in Court and on-site. Link to the new policy.

Court Fee Increase

1 July 2020

Effective 1 July 2020 the Civil Procedure Amendment (Fees) Regulation 2020 and Criminal Procedure Amendment (Fees) Regulation 2020 has increased the Court's fees by 1.5%. The fee schedule is now available.

LEC 40th Anniversary Conference Postponed

22 June 2020

The Court's 40th anniversary conference and dinner on 31 August 2020 at NSW Parliament House has been postponed.

The social distancing and travel restrictions that will still be in place at that time make holding the event unviable. The Court hopes to hold the conference in 2021, still in the Court's 40th year of operation, once the restrictions are lifted. The date for the re-scheduled conference will be announced in the future once it is known when the restrictions will be lifted.

Microsoft Teams Practitioner's Fact Sheet

27 May 2020

The Court has issued a fact sheet for using Microsoft Teams at the Land and Environment Court. Link to the fact sheet here.

Land and Environment Court (Amendment No 1) Rule 2020

15 May 2020

A Rule has been made to amend the Land and Environment Court Rules 2007 to:

(a) extend the application of rule 3.10 relating to Court functions not exercisable by Commissioners to Commissioners exercising the jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court or any other function under the Land and Environment Court Act 1979, and

(b) update references to provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The Rule is now published on the NSW legislation website.

Delegation to Registrars under section 13 of the Civil Procedure Act 2005

7 May 2020

The Delegation to Registrars under section 13 of the Civil Procedure Act 2005 has been updated. Link here.

Commissioner Elizabeth Espinosa Appointed

6 May 2020

The Chief Judge is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Commissioner to the Court.

Ms Elizabeth Espinosa has been appointed a Commissioner of the Court from 1 June 2020 for a period of 7 years.

Ms Espinosa's practice as a solicitor spans over 20 years, specialising in local government, planning and environmental law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Wollongong. Ms Espinosa was admitted as an Australian lawyer in June 1997. Ms Espinosa's experience in the Court is wide-ranging. As a solicitor she has appeared in most classes of jurisdiction of the Land and Environment Court. She has extensive experience in local government and in assessment of development applications. In her previous role as General Counsel at Liverpool City Council she was responsible for providing high level legal services and appearing as legal representative in the Court and provided legal advice for Council and Councillors in relation to local government development applications and dealings.

Ms Espinosa recently has served as the President of the Law Society of NSW, and currently remains a Councillor of the Law Society of NSW. She is also Director of the Corporate Governance Committee of the Law Council of Australia.

Court Vacation 2020-2021

4 May 2020

The Judges' fixed vacation begins on 21 December 2020 and the first day of term in 2021 will be Monday, 1 February 2021.

A Duty Judge will be available during the fixed vacation for urgent matters.

Matters may be listed for s34 conferences, mediations and hearing before Commissioners throughout the fixed vacation period except for the public holidays and the public service holiday on Tuesday, 29 December 2020.

The final Registrar's directions hearing list for 2020 will be on Friday, 18 December 2020. The Registrar's directions hearing list will resume on Monday, 18 January 2021.

Both Online Registry and Online Court will be operating 24 hours a day as normal during the vacation period and parties are encouraged to avail themselves of these resources. Applications, appeals, notice of motion and subpoenas can continue to be filed by Online Registyr. Online Court can continue to seek directions and also access orders for subpoenas and notices to produce throughout the vacation.

Information on Registry opening hours over the Xmas break is available here.

28 April 2020

Volume 12 Issue 1 (February 2020) of the Court's Judicial Newsletter is now available.

The 2019 AustLII Database Metric and Statistics for the Court

21 April 2020

The Court has been involved for a number of years in a collaborative project with AustLII to provide a range of metrics showing the use made of LEC decisions etc. The 2019 calendar year metrics are now available.

Early Listing Dates for Conciliation Conferences and Hearings

21 April 2020

Due to the vacation of listings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court has dates available between now and 30 June 2020 for conciliation conferences and hearings to be conducted by telephone. Available dates will be shown on the daily court lists. All parties to proceedings that have listings after 30 June 2020 or have new proceedings before the Court are encouraged to confer with each other and try to reach agreement on taking one of these early dates. If the parties agree that an early listing date can be taken, then they can apply for an early date through Online Court.

New Acting Commissioner Appointments

8 April 2020

The Chief Judge is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Peter Kempthorne, Mr Paul Knight, Mr Matthew Pullinger and Ms Jennifer Smithson as Acting Commissioners of the Court for the period commencing 8 April 2020 and expiring on 24 February 2021.

Acting Commissioner Peter Kempthorne

Mr Kempthorne has a Diploma in Real Estate Valuation from Sydney TAFE (1978) and an Associate Professional Certificate in specialist retail valuation (NSW Retail leases). He is a Fellow of the Australian Property Institute and a certified practising valuer (NSW). Mr Kempthorne has over 30 years applied experience as a valuer. He has been in private practice since 1995, in an independent real estate and valuation consultancy and has extensive experience in all types of property and rental valuations. Mr Kempthorne has been actively involved in professional bodies. He has been a member of the NSW Property Management Committee (1992-1996) and NSW Division, Property Management Award Judge (1994-2000) for the Property Council of Australia.

Acting Commissioner Paul Knight

Mr Knight has a Diploma in Real Estate Valuation from Sydney TAFE (1986), and commenced training as a valuer in 1979 with the Department of the Valuer General. Mr Knight has over 40 years applied experience as a valuer having previously been Assistant Director of Valuation Objections and Appeals with the Valuer General dealing with all land values issued in NSW and subsequently Assistant Director of Valuation Operations in NSW, with the NSW Land and Property Information. In 2016, Mr Knight retired from the public sector and established his own private valuation consultancy, specialising in advice on statutory valuation and land tax liability. Mr Knight has extensive experience in valuation of land under the Valuation of Land Act 1916 and the Compulsory Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991. He is a Fellow of the Australian Property Institute.

Acting Commissioner Matthew Pullinger

Mr Pullinger holds the degrees of Bachelor of Science (Architecture), Bachelor of Architecture (Honours) and Master of Urban Design, all from the University of Sydney. He is a registered architect in NSW and the ACT. Mr Pullinger has 27 years of applied experience as an architect and urban designer. Mr Pullinger has received many awards for Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design and led a range of projects, such as the 2040 Master Plan for Moore Park, 60 Martin Place, and the Summer Hill Flour Mill. Mr Pullinger has been actively involved in professional bodies. He is a past President and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and a Board Member of the NSW Architects Registration Board (2013-2015).

Acting Commissioner Jennifer Smithson

Ms Smithson has served as a full time Commissioner of the Court since 2016 and an Acting Commissioner of the Court for five years prior. Ms Smithson is a town planner, with a Bachelor of Arts, Urban and Regional Planning (with Distinction) and a Master of Town and Country Planning.  She is a Life Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) and has served as WA State President and National Councillor of the PIA. She has 30 years applied experience in NSW and WA in the private and public sectors.  She has served as a sessional member of the State Administrative Tribunal of WA.

Interim Procedure for the Issuing of Class 5 Proceedings

The Court has issued an interim Protocol for the issuing of Class 5 proceedings at the Land and Environment Court. Link to the Protocol.

Telephone and Audio Visual Link Conferencing Protocol

The Court has issued a Protocol for using audio link and audio visual link at the Land and Environment Court. Link to the Protocol.

Changes in Registry filing procedures

From Tuesday 24 March 2020, the counter of the LEC Registry will not be personally attended by Registry staff. All documents should be filed by Online Registry, DX, post or courier, as previously advised. If filing of hard copy documents is necessary, a box has been provided in the public foyer near the counter for filing documents. The box will be regularly cleared and the documents processed by Registry staff and the processed documents returned to the parties.

24 March 2020

COVID-19 Further Restrictions

The Court has reviewed the current health advice regarding social distancing with the aim of minimising personal attendances at Court listings (including hearings, conciliations, mediations and onsite views). The situation is changing rapidly. In the light of current health advice the Court now directs that all listings proceed by telephone or AVL.

The Court is equipped to utilise Online Court, Online Registry and telephone conferencing.

The unique circumstances of the Court's jurisdiction require a specific approach on a case by case basis to determine if it is feasible to deal with the matter via telephone or AVL. If not, it is likely to be postponed.

The Court will implement a review of all matters listed from 30 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Each matter will be listed for a telephone directions hearing to consider whether the listing can be conducted via telephone or other suitable arrangements are able to be made.

If it is determined that the matter cannot proceed, the listing date will be vacated and the matter will be listed for further directions.  

In relation to the matters listed from Tuesday 24 March 2020 to 27 March 2020 the parties will be contacted by the Court on Monday 23 March 2020 to discuss the management of the particular listing.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy will be amended in the near future to reflect the need to consider whether matters can proceed by telephone or AVL.

Acting Chief Judge

24 March 2020

New COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy

The Court will be implementing the following procedures from Monday, 23 March 2020. Apart from parties being directed to use Online Court, Online Registry and teleconference facilities and avoid attendance in person, wherever practicable, the Court requires compliance with the new COVID-19 Pandemic Arrangements Policy.

The Court continues to monitor the health advice from the Australian Government and NSW Government in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19). In adopting this Policy, the Court is endeavouring both to protect the health and safety of all court users and to maintain access to justice and essential court services. If the measures in this Policy are not adopted, and embraced by the parties and practitioners, the only alternative is to cease all conciliations, mediations and hearings in the Court. This will place even greater hardship on parties than accommodating the restrictive rules of procedure for conciliations, mediations and hearings at this time.

Recent New​s​

20 March 2020

New filing arrangements at the Land and Environment Court

In order to maintain the practice of social distancing recommended by NSW Health, the Court is strengthening its new arrangements for the filing of documents advised on the website.

The following sign has now been placed on the doors to the Registry on level 4 and the arrangements are to take effect immediately.

If you are a legally represented party seeking to file a document, you must file your documents by one of the following means:

  • Online Registry
  • DX 264 Sydney
  • posted to Land and Environment Court, GPO Box 3565, Sydney NSW 2001
  • by courier delivered to the Court at Level 4, 225 Macquarie Street, Sydney.

Filed copies of your documents will be returned to you once processed by the Court together with any relevant invoice.

If you are not legally represented or you are not seeking to file a document, please call the Court on 9113 8200 and a member of Registry staff will be able to assist you further.

19 March 2020

Application to the Court where self-isolation necessary

The Australian and NSW government require self-isolation to limit the spread of COVID-19 in various circumstances. Anyone required to self-isolate must not attend the Court building or any Court proceedings wherever conducted.

The Court will consider any application to vacate hearing or conciliation dates or other listings where a legal representative or other person involved in Court proceedings or a party is obliged to self-isolate. Application should be made by Online Court and must include reasons and propose dates for a rescheduled listing.

Minimising the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) update 18 March 2020

The Court has implemented measures to reduce the need for personal attendance by parties and keep the Court operational as far as possible.

Effective immediately:  

  • Parties in Classes 1, 2 (excluding tree dispute applications), 3, 4 and 8 are required to use Online Registry and Online Court whenever available.
  • Both Online Court and Online Registry will be operating 24 hours a day as normal and parties must avail themselves of these resources.
  • Applications, appeals, notices of motion and subpoenas must be filed by Online Registry where access is available.
  • Online Court is to be used to seek directions (including listing matters for conciliation conferences, mediations and hearings) and also access orders for subpoenas and notices to produce.
  • Parties in Class 2 tree dispute applications and Class 5, 6 and 7 criminal proceedings and appeals must seek directions and access orders for subpoenas and notices to produce using the email address.

18 March 2020

Duty Lawyer Scheme

Every Friday between 9am and 12 noon a duty lawyer will be available by telephone to provide preliminary advice to self-represented litigants with a view to guiding them through the Court process and referring them to appropriate services. Read more or contact the registry on 9113 8200 to make a booking.

13 March 2020

Minimising the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Court is carefully monitoring the Commonwealth and State Governments' announcements and health advice relating to coronavirus (COVID-19).

In an endeavour to contain its effects and keep the Court operational as much as possible, parties in Classes 1, 2 (excluding tree dispute applications), 3, 4 and 8 are encouraged to use Online Registry and Online Court. Both Online Court and Online Registry will be operating 24 hours a day as normal and parties should avail themselves of these resources as much as possible.

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