Compulsory acquisition is the mandatory acquiring by a government body of land, part of the land for a specific purpose. The process of acquisition and the rights of land owners are governed by the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986.
Compulsory acquisition is very difficult to stop.
However, we can work with residents to devise strategies and submissions to try to avert compulsory acquisition. Alternatively, if the government proceeds with its intended works and acquires the land, we can work with residents and businesses to extract maximum compensation from the government.
There are several steps involved in compulsory acquisition, and our role changes slightly depending on how quickly the government pursues acquisition. In some circumstances, government bodies earmark land up to years in advance of needing to acquire the land for a project. In other cases, the governments announce projects and implementation starts soon afterwards.
The steps include:
- The government body announces it intends to compulsorily acquire land;
- The government issues a Public Acquisition Overlay (to designate the land); and
- The government starts the process of compulsory acquisition through service of a Notice of Intention to Acquire followed by a Notice of Acquisition.
A key role for us as your lawyer is to ensure that this offer of compensation is subjected to proper scrutiny, and assess whether there are grounds to request higher compensation. We will often engage a valuer to demonstrate that the value of your property is higher than the compensation offered, and to formulate your response to offer.
It is common for government bodies to offer higher compensation upon receipt of a well-reasoned submission. Care needs to be taken to ensure that all possible grounds for more compensation are itemised in the response to the offer. While some people try to manage the process themselves, this really is a very specialised part of the law, and overlooking even small issues can result in you missing out on the full compensation available.
After your response to offer is sent, a process of negotiation will occur. Generally, a process of negotiation will result in an agreed settlement. Where this is proving difficult, a “valuer’s conference” may be held where your valuer and the government’s valuer attempt to come to a common assessment of your property value. If you are unhappy with revised offers of compensation, it may be appropriate to litigate the matter in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or the Supreme Court of Victoria.
We have a great working relationship with a team of experienced property valuers and barristers, all of whom are experts in compulsory acquisition, to enable us to achieve great results for our clients.
We approach your situation sympathetically, with a view to getting you the best financial outcome.
Contact us to make an appointment with an experienced NextGen Legal lawyer to discuss your situation regarding compulsory acquisition.