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Supreme Court decision highlights the importance of careful preparation of Proposed Acquisition Notices

The Supreme Court of NSW has handed down a decision that highlights the importance for public authorities including Councils to be thorough and have express regard to the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (NSW) (Just Terms Act) when preparing Proposed Acquisition Notices (PAN).

The decision of Justice Hammerschlag in Desane Properties Pty Limited v State of New South Wales [2018] NSWSC 553 found that a PAN issued by the RMS was invalid as it failed to meet the formal requirements under the Just Terms Act. Specifically, the PAN did not comply with the approved form prescribed by the Minister, it failed to state the public purpose of the acquisition and it was issued for an improper purpose.

Background

On 26 May 2017, the RMS served a PAN on the plaintiff, Desane to compulsorily acquire its commercial property, as part of the NSW Government’s WestConnex project. Under s 171(1) of the Roads Act 1993 (Roads Act), the RMS has the authority to compulsorily acquire land for any purposes of that Act.
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