Restructure at the State Administrative Tribunal

Regular applicants to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) should take note of the restructure occurring as it will influence the way matters are dealt with at SAT.

Relevantly for the development industry, SAT has the jurisdiction to deal with applications for review under the Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA) (PD Act) and original proceedings under the PD Act and the Land Administration Act 1997 (WA) (LA Act) in respect of land valuation and compensation.

Since being established, SAT has developed a reputation for being a useful and efficient forum to resolve planning, local government and land compensation disputes.  Under the existing Development and Resources stream, SAT has over the years been able to resolve a high rate of matters through facilitative dispute resolution (FDR) processes such as mediation, while also maintaining the capacity to deal with the merits of a planning application at a substantive hearing involving expert evidence, without the level of formality and cost that might be associated with court proceedings.

In February 2014, SAT welcomed a new President, Justice Curthoys.  His Honour was previously a judge of the District Court of Western Australia.

The new President has recently announced the first details of a restructure at SAT which will see the existing four “streams” (including the Development and Resources stream) converted into 15 “lists”, each to be presided over by one of the three judicial members at SAT.

Relevantly for proponents in the development industry, the following lists and their relevant List Judge will be:

  • agriculture and fisheries – Justice Curthoys;
  • building and construction – Judge Sharp;
  • planning and development – Judge Parry;
  • strata titles – Judge Sharp;
  • valuation and compensation – Judge Parry; and
  • residential parks and retirement villages – Judge Sharp.

To an extent, the restructure at SAT borrows from the established procedure at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which operates a “list” structure, primarily managed by Deputy Presidents and Senior Members.

SAT’s stated prerogatives for initiating the restructure include the need to respond to the changing needs of its jurisdictions in the period (almost a decade) since SAT was established, to be more flexible in listing full-time members and to enable the experienced members more time to hear and mediate complex cases, and for the judicial members to play a more hands-on role in case management of matters through directions hearings.

As regular participants in the SAT process, Lavan Legal’s Planning, Environment and Land Compensation Team will keenly observe the changes on foot at SAT and any implications arising for applicants who regularly initiate proceedings under any of the newly created lists cited above.  It is anticipated that from hereon more rigour will be applied to directions hearings and that SAT’s main objectives, enshrined at s 9 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 (WA), will be front of mind with a view to having matters dealt with speedily, efficiently and fairly.

Disclaimer – the information contained in this publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice in relation to any particular matter you may have before relying or acting on this information. The Lavan team are here to assist.