The ACT Government has notified the Lands Acquisition Amendment Act 2017 as Act No 23 of 2017 (“the amending Act”). The amending Act will allow the Government to set a time limit on claims for compensation for land acquired by a compulsory process. Under the new provisions, which commenced on 1 September 2017, if a person whose interest in land is acquired has not lodged a claim for compensation within three years of the date of acquisition, the Territory Executive will have the option of making an offer of compensation. Once this offer is made, a further claim for compensation cannot be made, although the amount of compensation may be challenged.
Introducing the original Bill into Parliament in June this year, Minister for Planning and Management Mick Gentleman said:
“Currently there is no time limit for [people whose interests in land have been acquired] to make a claim. It is possible for land to be acquired under the act, but no follow up claim for compensation for years afterwards—or indeed indefinitely. If no claim is made, it is not currently possible for the territory to intervene. The territory cannot take statutory action to bring the compensation matter to a resolution.
In effect, this means the territory can have a liability for compensation of an uncertain amount for an indefinite period. This is not in anyone’s interest. It is contrary to the need for timely payment of compensation to the interest holder, the efficient administration of territory finances and the efficient administration of the Lands Acquisition Act.”
The amendment Act inserts a new section 61A – “Executive may make offer of compensation where no claim is made” into the Lands Acquisition Act 1994 (ACT). The section allows the Executive to make an offer of compensation to a person whose interest in land has been acquired by compulsory process if three years have passed since the interest was acquired and the person has not made a claim for compensation under section 56 of the Act. The Executive is required to make an offer in line with what the Executive feels that the person is entitled to under division 6.2 of the Lands Acquisition Act 1994 (ACT).
The Executive will be required to show how the compensation offered is worked out. The person whose interest has been acquired may accept the offer, or reject the offer of compensation and make an alternative offer. According to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, there is no time limit on the person’s decision to accept or reject the offer. If the offer is rejected, the Executive has two months to make a final offer, which is subject to merits review under the Australian Capital Territory Civil & Administrative Tribunal.
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Lands Acquisition Amendment Act 2017 (ACT), Bill, Speech and Explanatory Statement - available from TimeBase's LawOne service
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