Land and Environment Court

​Archived 2017 Announcements


New Senior Commissioner, Commissioner and Acting Commissioners 
22 December 2017

The Chief Judge is pleased to announce the appointment of a Senior Commissioner, Commissioner and Acting Commissioners of the Court.

Senior Commissioner Susan Dixon

Ms Susan Dixon has been appointed Senior Commissioner of the Court from 29 January 2018 to 5 July 2023.

Ms Dixon has served as a full time Commissioner of the Court since 2009. She is an Australian lawyer, having worked in private legal practice for 12 years before moving to the public sector. Ms Dixon was the Registrar of the Court for 5 years before her appointment as a Commissioner of the Court. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Macquarie University. Ms Dixon has expertise in Alternative Dispute Resolution and is a nationally accredited mediator. Ms Dixon has also been an occasional university lecturer in environmental law and mining and petroleum law at the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Notre Dame, Sydney. Ms Dixon has extensive experience in planning, environmental, local government, resource and administrative law, and mining law, having worked in these areas throughout her career.

Commissioner Peter Walsh

Mr Peter Walsh has been appointed a Commissioner of the Court from 29 January 2018 for a period of 7 years.

Mr Walsh is an experienced planner having run his own consulting practice for over 25 years. He has advised local, State and Commonwealth governments and has consulted extensively to the private sector in statutory planning and development assessment. He has provided expert testimony in the Land and Environment Court. Mr Walsh holds a Bachelor of Surveying (University of NSW), Graduate Diploma in Urban and Regional Planning (University of New England), Master of Business Administration (Macquarie University) and Doctor of Philosophy (Swinburne University). He is a registered planner and Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia. Mr Walsh has expertise in surveying, town and country planning, and governance of local government and town planning. He has lectured at University of Technology, Sydney in management of local government.

Acting Commissioner Sue Morris

Ms Sue Morris has been appointed an Acting Commissioner of the Court from 22 December 2017 for a period of 2 years.

Ms Morris recently retired from serving a 7 year term as a full time Commissioner of the Court. She is an experienced planner, having worked extensively in local government in town planning for over 23 years prior to appointment as a full time Commissioner of the Court. Ms Morris holds an Architectural Drafting Certificate (Sydney TAFE), Associate Diploma Town and Country Planning (Mitchell CAE) and an Ordinance 4 Certificate under NSW Local Government. She is a certified Practicing Planner PIA and trained mediator. 

Acting Commissioner Edward Blakely

Professor Edward Blakely has been appointed an Acting Commissioner of the Court from 1 February 2018 for a period of 2 years.

Prof Blakely is one of Australia's leading planners. He has over 30 years' experience in planning and urban development throughout the world. Prior to this appointment, Prof Blakely was the Central City District Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission. Prof Blakely has served on over 100 panels as Chair of Sydney Planning Panels. He is a Professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Sydney and has taught at the highest level in universities in the USA and Australia. Prof Blakely holds a Bachelor of Arts (University of California), Master of Arts, History and Development Studies (University of California), Master of Management (Pasadena Nazarene College), Doctor of Philosophy in Management and Education (University of California) and will shortly complete a Master of Laws in Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (Northwestern University). Prof Blakely has authored multiple publications and has served on numerous advisory boards both internationally and in Australia.

Acting Commissioner John Douglas

Mr John Douglas has been appointed as an Acting Commissioner of the Court from 22 December 2017 for a period of 2 years.

Mr Douglas is one of the most senior and experienced arborists in New South Wales. He has over 35 years' experience in arboriculture in both private practice and vocational education. Mr Douglas is currently the Head Teacher of Arboriculture at Ryde College of TAFE. Mr Douglas holds a Bachelor of Commerce (UNSW), Graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies (Macquarie) and Diplomas in Horticulture and Arboriculture (TAFE NSW). Mr Douglas is Chair of the TAFE NSW Arboriculture Trainers Community of Practice committee and represents TAFE NSW on the Arboriculture working group of Standards Australia. 



Reappointment of Acting Justice Molesworth

8 December 2017
Acting Justice Molesworth AO QC has been reappointed to act as a Judge of the Court for the period commencing on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2018.

Continuation of leave of absence for Justice Pepper

Justice Pepper will continue to take leave of absence from the Court until 9 May 2018 to chair the NT Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Unconventional Reservoirs and Associated Activities. 


Judicial Newsletter

16 November
Volume 9 Issue 3 of the Court's Judicial newsletter is now available.

Paperless trial
2 November
On Wednesday 1 November, the Attorney General launched a video that provided information about the paperless trial experiment which has been conducted by the Court in two Class 3 Resumption Compensation matters. The video can be accessed through this link.

A fact sheet has also been prepared to provide information about the paperless trial experiment. The fact sheet can be accessed through this link

The Court has already scheduled a number of further Class 3 matters to be conducted on a paperless basis for the remainder of this year and in 2018 and the first Class 1 merit appeal to be conducted on this basis will also take place in early 2018.


Announcement
27 October 2017
The Chief Judge announces that Senior Commissioner Rosemary Martin has resigned her appointment, effective 26 January 2018, for family reasons. She will be returning to Melbourne after that date. While she will continue working at the Court until then, I wish to take this opportunity to thank her for her contribution to the Court, and wish her well in her future endeavours. 


Annual Review
25 October 2017
The Court's Annual Review for 2016 is now available.

Tree dispute principle
25 September 2017

In Fang v Li & anor [2017] NSWLEC 1503, Acting Commissioner Galwey set out a tree dispute principle (at [58]) designed to provide guidance to parties where applications made pursuant to Part 2 of the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 include claims for rectification of, or compensation for, structural damage to property caused by roots of a tree located on adjoining land (being land to which s 4(1) of the Trees Act applies and where the tree is one to which s 4(3) and (4) of the Trees Act applies).

Court Vacation 2017-2018
18 September 2017

The Judges' fixed vacation begins on 18 December 2017 and the first day of term in 2018 will be Monday, 29 January 2018.

Matters may be listed for s 34 conferences, mediations and hearings before Commissioners throughout the fixed vacation except for the public holidays and the public service holiday on Wednesday 27 December 2017.

The final Registrar's directions hearing list for 2017 will be on Wednesday 20 December 2017. The Registrar's directions hearing list will resume on Monday 22 January 2018.

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

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

Judicial Newsletter

2 August 2017
Volume 9 Issue 2 of the Court's Judicial Newsletter is now available.

Access subpoenaed items from the Online Registry Website

1 August 2017
Legal practitioners can now download subpoenaed items directly from the Online Registry Website, once producers have uploaded documents online and subject to access orders being granted. Read more.

Submissions on proposed changes to the Class 3 Compensation Claims Practice Note
31 July 2017
The Court has received the following submissions on the proposed changes to the practice note:
EPLA
Transport for NSW
Young Lawyers
Practitioner
Practitioner
Practitioner


New practice note issued - residential development appeals
20 July 2017
Justice Preston has today made a new Class 1 Residential Development Appeals Practice Note replacing the Practice Note of the same name made on 28 March 2017. It will commence on 24 July 2017.

The new practice note amends the usual directions regarding draft conditions of consent in Schedule E paragraph 12 (a) and (e) so that the respondent consent authority is to file and serve draft conditions of consent (both hard copy and electronic form) by 14 days before the conciliation conference and hearing (instead of 7 days) and that the applicant for consent is to file and serve its draft conditions in response (both hard copy and electronic form) by 7 days before the conciliation conference and hearing (instead of 2 days). These are the only amendments.



Location of brothels planning principle

12 July 2017
In Yao v Liverpool City Council [2017] NSWLEC 1167, handed down on 31 March 2017, Brown C set out at [24-25] that the Commissioners had decided that the planning principle in Martyn v Hornsby Shire Council [2004] NSWLEC 614 at 18-21 should be replaced with objective based considerations for the location of brothels.                         

New fee schedule
30 June 2017
From 1 July 2017, new fees apply.


New Commissioner
14 June 2017

The Chief Judge is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Sarah Bish as a Commissioner of the Court from 28 June 2017.

Ms Bish is an environmental scientist, with special knowledge and expertise in geology, hydrogeology, groundwater management and water resource management. She has over 26 years of applied experience in the fields of water resource management and environmental management.

Ms Bish has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Geology) (UTS, 1990), Masters of Applied Science (Hydrogeology and Groundwater Management) (UNSW, 1995) and Diploma in Business Management (AGSM, 2005).

Ms Bish has worked in the mining industry in Australia and overseas as a geologist and engineering geologist; with the variously named NSW Department of Water Resources, Department of Land and Water Conservation and Department of Natural Resources as a hydrogeologist and senior natural resources officer (water) developing and implementing natural resources policy, including water resource management plans and drought and salinity management plans, and undertaking investigations of and assessing impacts on groundwater and surface water systems throughout NSW; and with a leading engineering consultancy firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, providing policy, planning and technical advice relating to hydrogeology, sustainable groundwater management, sustainable water resource management and environmental management.

Ms Bish has also worked as a water and sanitation engineer for UNHCR, Oxfam, UNICEF and UNDP, in a variety of countries, designing and developing water and sanitation facilities for refugees; a consultant hydrogeologist for UNHCR, UNICEF and UNDP assessing water supply conditions (both quantity and quality) for drinking and agricultural purposes; and as a senior WASH (water, sanitation and health) specialist for UNICEF designing and delivering climate change adapted WASH programmes and providing policy and technical advice on sustainable, integrated water resource management and environmental protection in various countries.

 
 
New Registrar and Director

15 May 2017

I am pleased to announce that, after an extensive recruitment process, Ms Sarah Froh has been appointed as Registrar and Director of the Court. As you are no doubt aware the Court received a number of applications from highly qualified and experienced practitioners.

Ms Froh joins the Court from Henry Davis York where she is a Senior Associate with responsibility for leading a small team providing advice, representation and litigation with a focus on environmental, planning, development and local government law.  Ms Froh is no stranger to the Court having appeared a number of times.  Ms Froh has also appeared in matters in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court of Australia.

Ms Froh graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from Macquarie University in 2003. She has practiced as a solicitor since 2004. She has lectured at University of Technology, Sydney since 2011 on contaminated land and its regulation.

In addition to her legal skills and experience, Ms Froh holds a Bachelor of Applied Finance and is also a director on the Australasian Land and Groundwater Association. Her budget and management skills will be of great value to the Court in the efficient management of the registry and liaison with the Department of Justice.

Ms Froh will commence duties on Monday 24 July 2017.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Leonie Walton for her excellent and professional service to the Court, once again, during this transitional period.

 
New Practice Note issued - Residential Development Appeals
28 March 2017
The Chief Judge has today issued a new practice note for Class 1 Residential Development Appeals, and repealed the practice note by the same name made on 7 February 2011.

 
The new practice note for residential development appeals reflects the practice notes for Class 1 Development Appeals, and Class 1, 2 and 3 Miscellaneous Appeals. In particular, the Practice Note - Class 1 Residential Development Appeals has been changed to:
 
  • ​clearly articulate the party responsible for filing the Statement of Facts and Contentions prior to the first directions hearing;
  • require the parties to make an application to rely on expert evidence, with that application being made in court at the directions hearing and supported by the hearing information sheet; 
  • require certain documents to be provided in preparation for the conciliation phase of the conciliation and hearing;
  • specify that an adjournment of the conciliation phase is only granted in circumstances where an agreement has been reached in principle;
  • make it clear that there is to be no adjournment if the conciliation conference is terminated;
  • prescribe a procedure for circumstances in which where there has been a default in compliance with the directions;
  • require the completion of a new hearing information sheet; and
  • provide new usual directions.

Tree Disputes Student Helpdesk
28 March 2017
​ 
The Tree Disputes Student Helpdesk, a free service provided by University Students 
to provide procedural assistance to parties ​in tree dispute matters, is continuing throughout 2017. Read More.


Housing NSW's sales figures
24 March 2017
Housing NSW's medium sales figures for the September quarter 2016 are now available. Metro Rural


 
New Practice Notes and Policy issued
22 March 2017

The Chief Judge has issued new practice notes for Class 1 Development Appeals, and Class 1, 2 and 3 Miscellaneous Appeals​, and repealed the two practice notes by the same name made on 30 April 2007. The Conciliation Conference Policy​ has also been updated. The new practice notes and policy commence on Monday 27 March 2017.​​

The issue of the two new practice notes results in a number of changes to the procedure that applies to development appeals and miscellaneous appeals. Inter alia, the practice notes:

  • clearly articulate the party responsible for filing the Statement of Facts and Contentions prior to the first directions hearing;
  • align the procedure for expert evidence with the provisions of Part 31 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005, requiring parties to make an application for leave to rely on expert evidence and for directions for the filing of expert evidence;
  • require certain documents to be provided before a conciliation conference;
  • specify the circumstances in which it is appropriate for an adjournment of a conciliation conference to be given, and how the adjournment is managed;
  • prescribe a procedure for circumstances in which where there has been a default in compliance with the directions;
  • require the completion of new hearing information sheets;
  • provide new usual directions, including usual directions that will be made when a conciliation conference is arranged.

The new Conciliation Conference Policy differs from the earlier policy by:

  • requiring certain documents to be provided before a conciliation conference; and
  • specifying the circumstances in which it is appropriate for an adjournment of a conciliation conference to be given, and how the adjournment is managed.

 
Update to the Court's website
17 March 2017
The Court's website has been updated to provide information on its jurisdiction under the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015. Read about this jurisdiction​ and view the information on how to commence and carry on Class 2 and 3 Strata Scheme Development proceedings.

 
Judicial Newsletter
13 March 2017
Volume 9 Issue 1 of the Court's Judicial Newsletter is now available.

 
AustLII Metrics
13 March 2017
The Court has been involved for a number of years in a collaborative project with A​ustLII to provide a range of metrics showing the use made of LEC decisions etc. The calendar 2016 metrics are now available. 

 
De-Commissioning of old eCourt site
2 March 2017
The old eCourt website (https://ecourt.lec.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/eCourt/home.do) will be decommissioned at the close of business on 10 March 2017. Solicitors seeking to retrieve any data from the former eCourt system (including a record of documents filed) will need to retrieve any information by logging onto the old eCourt site, typing in the old case number and downloading/copying any information to their own computer system. Solicitors seeking to take these steps to retrieve the data may need to use Google Chrome and select "Advanced" to proceed to the old eCourt site.

 
Update on Pla​nning Principles
2 March 2017
Continuing the process of reviewing the existing planning principles of the Court, Moore J has explained, in 193 Liverpool Road Pty Ltd v Inner West Council [2017] NSWLEC 13, that the planning principle in Karavellas v Sutherland Shire Council [2004] NSWLEC 251 concerning redevelopment of sites and potential impacts on neighbouring sites was confirmed and that the planning principles in Cornerstone Property Group Pty Ltd v Warringah Council [2004] NSWLEC 189 and Melissa Grech v Auburn Council[2004] NSWLEC 40 had been subsumed by Karavellas and were no longer required to be referred to in the future. 

 
New Commissioner
23 February 2017

The Chief Judge is pleased to announce the appointment of Joanne Gray as a Commissioner of the Court from Tuesday 18 April 2017. ​

Ms Gray is an Australian lawyer, having practiced primarily in the court and justice sectors for 11 years. She has been a Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court of NSW and, since 2010, the Registrar of the Land and Environment Court. She has a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) (with Distinction) and a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from the University of Wollongong. Ms Gray is a nationally accredited mediator. Ms Gray has extensive knowledge and experience of the Land and Environment Court and its work, including case managing, conciliating and adjudicating matters in Class 1, 2 and 3 of the Court’s jurisdiction.​


 
Tree Disputes Student Helpdesk
10 January 2017

The Tree Disputes Student Helpdesk, a free service provided by University Students to provide procedural assistance to parties ​in tree dispute matters, is continuing throughout 2017, with initial dates on January 20, 24 and February 3, 7, 17, 21. Read more.