The Land and Environment Court of New South Wales (the Court) is the first specialist environmental superior court in the world. It was established on 1 September 1980 by the
Land and Environment Court Act 1979 (the
The Court’s jurisdiction includes merits review, judicial review, civil enforcement, criminal prosecution, criminal appeals and civil claims about planning, environmental, land, mining and other legislation.
Classes of the Court’s jurisdiction
The Court's place in the Court system
Cross vested jurisdiction
The Court’s purpose is to safeguard and maintain:
The Court has an appellate and a review jurisdiction in relation to planning, building, environmental, mining and ancillary matters.
Jurisdiction is exercised by reference to the subject matter of the proceedings. This may involve matters that have an impact on community interest as well as matters of government policy. The Court has summary criminal jurisdiction and appellate criminal jurisdiction in relation to environmental offences.
Court Act provides for eight classes of jurisdiction in the Court. The following table summarises these eight classes.
Class 1: environmental, planning and protection appeals
Residential development appeals
Class 2: tree disputes and miscellaneous appeals
Tree and hedge disputes
Class 3: valuation, compensation and Aboriginal land claim cases
Aboriginal land claims
Claims for compensation for compulsory acquisition of land
Land valuation appeals
Class 4: civil enforcement and judicial review of decisions under planning or environmental laws
Class 5: criminal proceedings for offences against planning or environmental laws
Classes 6 and 7: criminal appeals against convictions and sentences for environmental offences by the Local Court.
Class 8: mining matters
Appeals against the Court’s decisions
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* Appeals to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal are in relation to proceedings in Classes 5, 6 or 7 of the Land and Environment Court’s jurisdiction.** Appeals from the Local Court of New South Wales to the Land and Environment Court are with respect to an environmental offence under the
Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001and are in Classes 6 and 7 of the Land and Environment Court’s jurisdiction.
* Appeals to the NSW Court of Appeal are in relation to proceedings in Classes 1, 2, 3, 4 or 8 of the Land and Environment Court’s jurisdiction.
Proceedings may be transferred between the Supreme Court and the Land and Environment Court.
In civil proceedings, there is capacity for either the Supreme Court or the Land and Environment Court to transfer proceedings to the other court if it is more appropriate for the proceedings to be heard by the other court (see
s 149B of the
Civil Procedure Act 2005). The Court to which the proceedings are transferred is vested by the transfer with all of the jurisdiction of the transferor court with respect to the proceedings
(s 149E of the
Civil Procedure Act 2005).
For proceedings in Classes 5-7, the Supreme Court also has the power to transfer any proceedings commenced or purporting to have been commenced in the Supreme Court to the Land and Environment Court if the Supreme Court is of the opinion that the proceedings could or should have been commenced in the Land and Environment Court (
s 72 of the