Can legal representation help you deal with the Council?

Can legal representation help you deal with the Council?


Remember that the Council is the Government. The Government is at the top level of the Australian social hierarchy. As such, the Government is immune from a majority of legal claims and proceedings. After all, how can the Government judge itself…
Well, this is theory. What about practice? We spoke to four law and town planning firms. The song is the same. According to historical precedents, people rarely win cases against the Government. Apparently, you need to prove the Government was negligent to have a chance to win the case. The Council just being inefficient and/or incompetent is not sufficient.

And this is the reason everything is so slow in the Council. In effort to make sure the Council can not be deemed “negligent”, for every decision they make the Council will run endless consultation with everyone the Council can think of.

The Council is not there to help people

“The Council never advises, The Council only polices”, we were told by the Council.  Even though the people elect the Council as the local government, the Council is not there to help people.

It is very difficult to ask The Council “What do you expect this to be?”. The Council will rarely if at all tell you the answer. In attempt to offload the blame (should such need arise), the Council instead will require you to provide a report from professionals. So the professionals charge exorbitant fees to write such reports. And the fees they charge are exorbitant because lion share of this charges goes to pay Professional Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance in case they do make mistake. But at least the Council is in a right position to say “Look, a professional consultant suggested that, not us”.

But then comes another problem. Even though the report is prepared by a qualified and licensed professional consultant, the Council will most probably ignore their opinion anyway. The Council has the right to look at the report and then make a determination if what is proposed in the report will be supported. But what if the Council itself is still not sure what is right or wrong? Do you think this could not possibly happen? Check out our APZ Boundary Saga.

Claim deadline

Last but not least, be very mindful of one critical milestone. Apparently you can only lodge the complaint to the Court about the manner the Council handles your application within 6 months and 10 days after the development application is lodged. After this milestone is passed, you can in fact do virtually nothing. After this you just must grit your teeth and persevere. We got caught on this.

And the Council is acutely aware of this clause. The Council will stall the progress of development application beyond 6 months and 10 days. And they will come up with reasons good enough as to not take the blame. You must be prepared that no-one will look at your application for at least two months. You must be prepared that it will weeks and months to do the reviews (read the history of bush fire report review in July-October 2017).

The Council will claim that they are understaffed and overworked (which they probably are). But does the Council intentionally keep the Building and Development team understaffed and overworked to achieve described effects?

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