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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 6 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1957..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

beyond the capacity of the Magistrates Court. I have been advised that, as the other options are still available, it is appropriate that the Supreme Court resolve these matters.

I did wonder if such discretionary powers could be given to the Magistrates Court. In my mind, that would simplify arrangements. The argument against this is that, if such discretionary power were granted to the Magistrates Court, decisions made in the Magistrates Court could still be challenged in the Supreme Court. I am not a lawyer, so I will accept these amendments as a sensible way of addressing the matter.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.47), in reply: I thank members for their support for this sensible reform to the Unit Titles Act. As members have already alluded to, under the Unit Titles Act 1970, now repealed, alteration or cancellation of units plans was effected by way of an application to the Supreme Court. This bill invests the Supreme Court with powers similar to those contained in that previous act.

The Unit Titles Act 1970 gave the Supreme Court the power to impose conditions and give directions, to be complied with before making a final order for the alteration or cancellation of a units plan. In addition, the court was empowered to give directions to be complied with after the cancellation or alteration of the units plan. Any matter where property rights and interests are affected needs to be dealt with by a superior court that has the broad-ranging powers to make appropriate orders to dispose of all matters before it. When the Unit Titles Act 2001 was enacted, there were no provisions equivalent to those I have referred to already.

The current act provides that the ACT Planning and Land Authority may give a cancellation authority, which has the effect of cancelling the units plan, dissolving the owners corporation and ending the lease of the common property and the lease over each of the units. Such a cancellation results in a single lease over a single parcel. When dealing with personal property rights, as is the situation in the alteration and cancellation of units plans, any alteration or adjustment of property rights should always be susceptible to an application to a superior court that has the jurisdiction to make broad orders and directions in order to adjust the interests of the parties to the application.

The bill does not seek to change the current access to both the Planning and Land Authority and the Magistrates Court in regard to cancellation orders or deadlock orders respectively. Indeed, it retains the cheaper and faster procedure for simple cases. However, it now provides the appropriate court option for matters that are more complex. The basis of the amending legislation is the need to ensure that there is fairness and equity with respect to the property rights and interests of individuals and other interested parties.

Development in the territory, and in particular the redevelopment of existing multiunit developments, presents a unique range of complex commercial property issues. This legislation will more appropriately deal with the anticipated range of matters that will come before the Planning and Land Authority and the courts. I thank members for their support of this bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


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