A Slater and Gordon lawyer says the election of the Labor Government has come too late to save more than 100 residents whose properties have been compulsory acquired for the East West Link from the distress and inconvenience of the acquisition process.
Following the state election the project seems set to be abandoned and the properties - which were compulsorily acquired on 16 October 2014 - will not be needed.
But Slater and Gordon Senior Associate Manisha Blencowe said the acquisition process, including finalisation of compensation, would still need to be completed.
“The Land Acquisition and Compensation Act, which governs compulsory acquisitions in Victoria, sets out a number of mandatory steps which flow from a Notice of Acquisition being served,” Ms Blencowe said.
“A change of government or change of policy does not undo the legal steps which have already been undertaken”.
“There have been some initial confusing messages issued by the Linking Melbourne Authority.
“However there are statutory processes which LMA must complete now that it has acquired properties.”
Ms Blencowe said the legislation required a series of offers and claims to be exchanged by the Linking Melbourne Authority and acquired interest holders. The legislation also requires the Linking Melbourne Authority to pay compensation to affected property owners after an offer is made, even if the compensation is not finalised.
“Offers of compensation have already been made by the Linking Melbourne Authority to our clients and we are in the process of preparing our clients’ claims for compensation in response.
“Compensation entitlements will include the value of the property, ‘solatium’ for the distress and inconvenience associated with the acquisition, a range of losses resulting from the loss of the property and purchase of a replacement property, and other claims.”
Ms Blencowe said that while the government may cancel the project and chose to offer properties back to the previous owners, it would need to complete the statutory processes and finalise compensation.
“We will seek urgent detail on the new government’s plans for the project and our clients’ former properties, however the key message from our perspective is that the compensation entitlements and process already underway do not change.
“As the government navigates the best way through the cancellation of the project, we will be alert to ensure that our clients’ rights are not prejudiced in the process,” said Ms Blencowe.