This circular applies to –
authorities of the State, as defined under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (the Act) and commonly referred to as 'acquiring authorities', and
the acquisition by an acquiring authority of any interest in privately owned land under the Act (except interests under the surface of land as referenced in section 62 (1) and (2) of the Act).
Under the Act, acquiring authorities may acquire land by agreement with the land owner or through compulsory process. The Act prescribes the steps that must be undertaken to acquire land, and the matters to be considered in determining compensation for the land owner.
This circular imposes the following administrative requirements on acquiring authorities to improve fairness and transparency in the land acquisition process.
Improved engagement with the land owner
The Act encourages acquisition by agreement with the land owner. To support this objective, when acquiring authorities seek to acquire privately owned land by agreement, they must use all reasonable endeavours to have at least one face to face meeting with the land owner. The meeting will usually be with the owner registered on the land title.
Where it is not possible or practicable to meet the land owner (eg where the land owner is overseas for an extended period of time), the acquiring authority must use all reasonable endeavours to meet a representative nominated by the land owner.
The parties may agree to hold a meeting by a different means (eg telephone), or agree not to have a meeting at all.
Improved information on the land acquisition process
In the interests of improved transparency for land owners, acquiring authorities must also provide the land owner with a copy of the Land Acquisition Information Guide or an equivalent document.
The above changes take effect from 1 February 2015 and apply to all prospective acquisitions commenced from that date. Acquiring authorities are encouraged to apply them to any existing acquisition processes as at that date.
Compliance with this circular is mandatory for acquiring authorities except State Owned Corporations, which are encouraged to comply.