01 Sep 2011

On 29 August 2011, Justice Emerton handed down her judgement in the proceeding Candibon v Minister for Planning and the State of Victoria.  The proceeding was brought by the plaintiff in February 2006 and was heard between October and December 2010. Click here to read more.

The claim related to the purchase by the then Minister for Planning of land known as 'Greenhills' in Pakenham in March 1998.  The Minister purchased the land by private treaty, pursuant to his power under s 171(1)(b) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 for $2.1 million.  In 1999, the Minister transferred Greenhills to the Cardinia Shire Council as part of a 'land exchange agreement' and in 2004 the land was rezoned to 'Industrial 1'.  Today, Greenhills has been developed, in part, as an industrial estate.  The plaintiff's claim against the defendants was for approximately $100 million, which the plaintiff claimed was the present day value of Greenhills.

Claims in deceit, unconsionable conduct, negligence and breach of statutory duty were brought against the defendants.  The claims in deceit, unconsionable conduct and negligence were made on the basis of statements allegedly made by the former Minister to the a director of the plaintiff company in a series of meetings in 1996 and 1997 about the development potential of Greenhills.  The claim for breach of statutory duty was based on alleged breaches of the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986, and was premised on the fact that the Minister purchased the land by private treaty and did not compulsorily acquire Greenhills.

Her Honour found, on the balance of probabilities, that the former Minister had not made the alleged statements to the plaintiff.  She also found that that the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 did not apply to the transaction and that the former Minister could purchase Greenhills pursuant to his power under s 171(1)(b) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.  Further, Her Honour found that the plaintiff was barred from bringing its claims of unconscionable conduct and negligence pursuant to the Limitation of Actions Act 1958, as these were brought outside of the six year time limit imposed by that Act.

The VGSO has acted for the State since the inception of proceedings.