Compulsory Acquisition Law

We believe that property ownership is a fundamental human right and have acted for a range of clients impacted by compulsory acquisition, including registered homeowners, tenants, and businesses. Led by partner, Fraser Lamb, our compulsory acquisition lawyers in Adelaide have established a reputation for advising and advocating for clients on a range of such matters.

What is compulsory acquisition?

Compulsory acquisition of land refers to the right of the government to acquire land that is privately owned. The right stems from the ‘doctrine of tenure’ adopted from English common law. It means to hold or possess land ‘of’ or ‘from’ another. The underlying principle of the doctrine is that all land ultimately belonged to the monarch, which was given to others via a ‘grant’. Australia’s laws and policies have evolved significantly since adopting the common law, however compulsory acquisition remains. Accordingly, ownership of land in Australia is subject to the right of the government to ‘take back’ or acquire the land or part of it. This may sound extreme but fortunately, the Constitution requires that any acquisition must be on ‘just terms’.

The Land Acquisition Act 1969 (SA) sets out the process for the acquisition of land in South Australia and the compensation to which owners or tenants are entitled to. The property acquisition process is managed by various Authorities, including local Council and the South Australian Government.

What happens if I receive an acquisition notice (Notice of Intention)?

Privately owned land may be acquired by a government body such as a local council or department (i.e., the Department of Infrastructure and Transport) for the purposes of public projects such as roads, railways, schools, and hospitals. The government also has a right to place an easement or other license on privately-owned land.

If you have an interest in land that is to be acquired, you will receive a Notice of Intention to Acquire Land and be assigned an Acquisitions Case Manager. You may be entitled to compensation if your interest in the land to be compulsorily acquired will be adversely affected. Your interest may be as an owner, residential tenant, or commercial tenant.

At this point, we recommend retaining a lawyer to ensure that your legal interests are protected and that you obtain the maximum compensation possible, which is your fundamental right. Obtaining legal advice will help you understand your rights and the process involved and allow time to prepare a strategy to pursue your claim for financial compensation. Under the Act, your reasonable legal costs in compulsory acquisition matters will be reimbursed, meaning you can retain quality representation without worrying about excessive legal fees.

You may also have certain objection rights under the Act.

How is compensation determined?

The starting point in determining compensation is a valuation by an independent valuer, typically based on market sales evidence of like properties in the same area (as if the proposed infrastructure for which the land is required was not proceeding).

Compensation should also take into consideration, as relevant, disturbance (conveyancing and relocation costs), transfer costs (stamp duty and registration fees), special value, and a solatium payment. A solatium payment may apply for residential owners of property in circumstances where the land being acquired is their principal place of residence.

Compensation is assessed differently for residential or commercial tenants.
We are specialists in this complex area of law, having spent many years helping people in South Australia who are faced with compulsory acquisition to achieve maximum compensation.

Our Adelaide Compulsory Acquisition Lawyers Will:

  • Guide you through the relevant Land Acquisition Acts and Regulations
  • Maximise your potential heads of compensation including special value, severance, solatium and disturbance
  • Develop negotiation strategies tailored to residential, commercial, or agricultural matters
  • Lead negotiations and settlement conferences with the Authority
  • Instruct expert property valuers, business valuers, counsel, or other professionals through the acquisition process
  • Negotiate with the Authority on the provision of temporary access to land
  • Facilitate the withdrawal of compensation funds out of the Supreme Court Suitor’s Fund
  • Prepare and Lodge Court Applications

If you have an interest in property that is being acquired, please contact us early. We will help you navigate the process and ensure that you are properly compensated for what can be an unexpected interruption and upheaval to your life or business.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 08 8155 5322 for expert legal advice.

Protect your property rights.
Contact us today for a no obligation consult.