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Land Acquisition: Understand Your Legal Rights

On 16 October 2014, the Linking Melbourne Authority published Notices of Acquisition in the Victorian Government Gazette in relation to properties in Clifton Hill, Parkville, Collingwood, North Carlton, Kensington and Moonee Ponds required for the construction of the East West Link. The effect of the Notices was that the Linking Melbourne Authority immediately became the legal owner of those properties. The LMA served offers of compensation on many property owners in late October 2014.

Since that time, the Labor Government which was elected in November 2014 has stated that they will not proceed with the East West Link. However, because properties had already been acquired the compensation process triggered by those acquisitions will continue to its conclusion irrespective of the new government’s ultimate decision about cancellation of the project.

If your property is the subject of a Notice of Acquisition, it is very important to get legal advice.

Our experience has shown that, with the right advice, the amount of compensation obtained can sometimes be considerably more than first thought. It is important to obtain expert advice on valuation and legal issues so that you are fully aware of your entitlements.

If you have received an offer of compensation from the Linking Melbourne Authority, we can advise you on whether the offer fully meets your entitlements and assist you lodging a claim for further compensation.

Our work is at no cost to you, as the Authority is legally required to pay our costs and we will only seek payment from the Authority – not you.

Slater and Gordon can protect your rights now as property is acquired, and advise you to protect your interests into the future.

Contact us for a free and obligation free appointment to discuss your situation.

  • Voluntary Purchase Scheme

    At the end of September 2014, the Linking Melbourne Authority announced a voluntary purchase scheme (the Scheme) which invites some property owners outside of the East West Link Project boundary to sell their property to the Authority because the property has been assessed as ‘materially impacted’ by the project.

    At that time, the Authority wrote to a number of property owners advising that their property has been included in the Scheme.

    Despite the Labor Government elected in November 2014 stating that the East West Link will not proceed, the Authority has recently advised that the Scheme will continue to operate, but with some significant changes to timeframes and conditions.

    It appears that the properties included in the Scheme are in the following areas:

    • The section of Manningham Street (Parkville) between the Upfield Rail Line and the northern end of Manningham Street
    • The section of Alexandra Parade (Clifton Hill) immediately east of Hoddle Street
    • The western side of Bendigo Street (Collingwood)
    • Properties in the area between Smith Street (Clifton Hill) and Hoddle Street (Clifton Hill) proximate to the proposed route of the Alexandra Parade realignment.

    If you have received a letter from the LMA inviting you to participate in the Scheme, it is important to note that the deadline for advising the Authority that you intend to participate is 22 April 2015.

    If you wish to participate in the Scheme, it is important that you seek legal advice. Our experience has shown that with the right advice, the amount of compensation obtained can sometimes be considerably more than first thought. It is important to obtain expert advice on valuation and legal issues so that you are fully aware of your entitlements.

    Slater and Gordon will offer to act for any person within the Scheme on the basis that our costs will be paid solely by the LMA. No out of pocket costs for our legal costs would be payable by you.

    We are happy to meet with any property owner whose property is within the Scheme to discuss your particular circumstances.

    Please contact Lauren Allan on 03 9602 6940 or lauren.allan@slatergordon.com.au if you would like to arrange a free and obligation free appointment.

    You may also register with us if you are part of the Scheme but plan to wait until after the election to decide how to proceed.

  • Initial Advice is Cost and Obligation Free

    We know people want an understanding of their legal position before they start incurring legal costs. When your land or business interest is to be acquired by a government you are entitled to have any professional expenses relating to legal, accounting and valuation services paid for by the government.

    We can sit down with you and discuss your situation on a no-cost and no-obligation basis. Alternatively, if you’d like to know more about legal rights when it comes to land acquisition, we can send you an information pack.

  • Affected business owners

    We know that as a business owner any land acquisition of your premises can have wide-ranging consequences, whether you are a leaseholder or own the freehold.

    You are faced with the difficult dilemma of relocating a business that might have been established for many years, finding a replacement site, grappling with advertising when your business may have previously been able to operate without it and fitting out new premises - among many other concerns.

    For you any compensation must take account not only of the value of your land, but the value of any business lost through the acquisition.

    It may be very difficult and time-consuming task to locate a suitable alternative site for your business.

    Given that any compensation for your land must be referable to the market value as at the date of any acquisition, it is in your interests to commence looking for alternative properties as soon as the prospect of acquisition arises, because the cost of land in commercial hubs can fluctuate rapidly over short periods of time– so the closer in time to the acquisition you are able to find an alternative property, the better position you will be in.

    We can advise you on the best commercial strategy to adopt whether you have a leasehold or freehold.

  • Our Experience

    Here at Slater and Gordon we have many years’ experience assisting clients with compulsory acquisitions:

    Roger Batrouney is an Accredited Specialist in Planning, Environment and Local Government Law. Roger has over 45 years’ experience representing owners and business in compensation claims against government departments. Roger has acted for numerous property owners who have chosen to sell their property to the government, most recently in relation to the East West Link and Melbourne Metro Rail Projects.

    Manisha Blencowe is a Principal Lawyer in the Victorian Commercial and Project Litigation team. Manisha has extensive experience in major litigation, including complex compulsory acquisition and land contamination disputes. Manisha has acted for a significant number of property owners affected by major infrastructure projects as well as leading the class action on behalf of residents of the Brookland Greens Estate in Cranbourne against the City of Casey and the EPA.

    We would be happy to meet with you in either our Melbourne offices or meet at your property, to outline the likely next steps and discuss your circumstances and the services we can provide.

  • Up to date information

    We have spoken with the government authority responsible for the project, the Linking Melbourne Authority and the Authority has reassured us that its website will be regularly updated with up-to-date information on the status of the project.

  • Media

    Slater and Gordon Compulsory Acquisition lawyer Roger Batrouney spoke to the media about the East West Link project in relation to the legal rights for residents.

  • East West Link submission

    In December 2013, Slater and Gordon made a submission to the East West Link (Eastern Section) Project Assessment Committee following the release of the East West Link Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) in October.

    In summary, Slater and Gordon has recommended that the contractor of the EWL:

    • Regularly informs residents and property owners about construction progress and activities
    • Agrees to pay for any damage to properties incurred during construction
    • Agrees to pay for pre and post-construction property condition assessments prepared by an independent expert
    • Establish complaints handling procedures
    • Establish a low or interest free loans scheme for properties owners forced to move

    Click on the following to view our submission.

  • Contact Our Specialist Compulsory Acquisition Team

    For more information, to make an appointment, or to register for future Slater and Gordon East West Link updates, please contact our specialist Compulsory Acquisition team by calling 1800 555 777.