Compulsory acquisition occurs when a government organisation uses its legal power to take over land, usually for the benefit of the public. For example, suppose the Victorian Government decides to improve traffic flow on a major road. In that case, it may use its powers to take the residential and business properties and use the land to widen the road. An example of this is the Yan Yean Road Upgrade in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs.
Compulsory acquisition laws usually require the affected persons (for example, landowners, business operators and tenants) to be fairly compensated for the land. However, the complex calculation system can cause significant problems for the landowner. For many people in this situation, seeking legal help from compulsory acquisition lawyers is vital. Although fictional, one of the most famous examples of this is in the iconic 1997 Australian film, The Castle: a family’s home was to be acquired to make way for an airport runway extension.
Our compulsory acquisition lawyers are skilled in legal advice and assistance in:
- residential, rural and commercial land acquisitions
- residential, rural and commercial easement acquisitions
- tenants’ rights in land acquisitions
- voluntary purchase schemes (VPS)
- voluntary land and easement acquisitions (such as an “option for easement”)
We provide advice in all areas of compulsory acquisition law, for example:
- Assessment of the nature of the land or easement acquired
- Assessment of the nature of the business located on land acquired
- Preparing briefs and appointments for expert land acquisition valuers
- Appointment of other advisers, for example, accountants, planners, agronomists, building consultants and engineers (with land acquisition experience)
- Negotiating with the Acquiring Authority for appropriate terms, including compensation
Compulsory acquisition FAQs
Compulsory acquisition legislation (link to the Land Acquisition Compensation Act) sets out who can compulsorily acquire land in Victoria. They are usually government departments or authorities, such as the Department of Transport (VicRoads), and are known as Acquiring Authorities.
If an Acquiring Authority decides to take over your property, it will firstly send you a Notice of Intention to Acquire. The Notice must set out all the acquisition details, and the Authority is usually required to complete the acquisition process within six months of the date that is serves the Notice of Intention to Acquire.
The Acquiring Authority must offer compensation for the land acquired within 14 days of publishing its Notice of Acquisition in the Government Gazette. For more information, see When does the Acquiring Authority become the owner of the property
No. Compensation calculations are complex and are usually more than simply the market value of the land acquired. Many items are considered when calculating compensation, including:
- The property’s market value
- Whether the land has any special value
- Whether you will keep part of the land, and whether this results in reduced value to that land retained (severance)
- Whether you’ve suffered financial loss because of the acquisition (disturbance), for example, relocation costs
- How the acquisition will affect any adjoining land that you own
- Any expenses you’ve incurred because of the acquisition, for example, legal costs and valuation fees
Other factors are considered which reflect the personal impact that the acquisition may have on you (solatium). This reflect, for example:
- The length of time you’ve owned or occupied the land
- How long you would have continued to own or occupy the land
- Your age, dependents, and other personal circumstances
The Acquiring Authority becomes the owner of the property (or land acquired) when it publishes a Notice of Acquisition in the Government Gazette. The date on the Notice is the date the ownership of the land changes from you to the Acquiring Authority. The Acquiring Authority must also serve this notice on you within 14 days of publication in the Government Gazette.
Expert compulsory acquisition legal advice for your local area
We have advised on dozens of acquisition projects (against Acquiring Authorities), such as: