Land and Environment Court

About us    

 

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 Court Act).

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.

Purpose

The Court’s purpose is to safeguard and maintain:

  • the rule of law
  • equality of all before the law
  • access to justice
  • fairness, impartiality and independence in decision making
  • processes that are consistently transparent, timely and certain
  • accountability in its conduct and its use of public resources
  • the highest standards of competency and personal integrity of its judges, commissioners and support staff.

Jurisdiction

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.

The Court Act provides for eight classes of jurisdiction in the Court. The following table summarises these eight classes.

Classes of the Court’s jurisdiction

Class 1: environmental, planning and protection appeals

Development appeals

Residential development appeals

Miscellaneous appeals

Class 2: tree disputes and miscellaneous appeals

Tree and hedge disputes

Miscellaneous appeals

Class 3: valuation, compensation and Aboriginal land claim cases

Aboriginal land claims

Claims for compensation for compulsory acquisition of land

Land valuation appeals

Miscellaneous 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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The court's place in the Court system

NSW court system - criminal jurisdiction

 NSW court system - criminal jurisdiction

* 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.

NSW court system - civil jurisdiction

 NSW court system - civil 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.

Cross vested 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 Court Act).

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