Land and Environment Court



Recent news and announcements

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:
- 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.


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 ( 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.


Housing NSW's median sales prices
23 December 2016
Housing NSW's median sales prices for the June quarter 2016 are now available. Metro Rural

Annual Review
14 December 2016
The Court's Annual Review for 2015 is now available.

Leave of absence for Justice Pepper and Appointment of Professor Molesworth AO QC as an Acting Judge

7 December 2016

Justice Pepper will be taking leave of absence from the Court for 12 months from January 2017 to January 2018.  Her Honour will chair the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Unconventional Reservoirs and Associated Activities in the Northern Territory.

Professor Simon Molesworth AO QC has been appointed an acting judge of the Court from 23 January 2017 to 31 December 2017.  Professor Molesworth is one of Australia's leading barristers in planning and environmental law.  After initially practising as a solicitor (from 1978), Professor Molesworth became a barrister in Victoria in 1984 and was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1995, specialising in environmental, planning,  heritage, and natural resources law.  He is a Vice Chancellor's Professorial Fellow at Monash University. 

​He has served previously as a senior legal member of the Planning Appeals Board and the Planning Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, forerunners to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and as the State Mining Warden for Victoria.  He was appointed first a Member and then an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to conservation and the environment, to heritage preservation at national and international levels, to the professions and natural resource sectors, and to community health organisations.

The Online Registry Website is changing!
30 November 2016

From 3 December 2016 the Online Registry website will have a new 'look and feel.' Watch the video of the new Online Registry website. Key changes include:

  • Updated design to Online Registry website homepage and all other content
  • One Login point for both Online Registry and Online Court
  • New FAQs function with Search field to help users look for answers to specific queries. The Search function looks for answers to existing FAQs.
  • Once logged in Online Registry, you will notice the following changes:
    • A new menu bar incorporating Online Court
    • Menu labels have changed as follows:
      • Case list is now called 'Search cases'
      • Start or defend a case is now called 'New case'
      • Forms in progress is now 'Saved forms'
      • Forms awaiting payment is now 'Payments'

AustLII Database Metrics
25 November 2016 
AustLII's LEC database metrics and statistics for the years ending 31 December 2014 and 2015 are now available.


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