Tree disputes: Outcomes and orders
Applications under the Trees Act are dealt with quickly, usually within three months of filing of the application. The usual means of resolving tree disputes is by a hearing. However, the parties can seek for their tree dispute to be resolved by other means, including conciliation, mediation and neutral evaluation. Conciliation or mediation may be appropriate where the application concerns the amount of compensation for damage caused by a tree. Information is available on:
The commissioner hearing the appeal will give judgment, usually at the conclusion of the final hearing after a short break. The commissioner will give the judgment orally, stating the decision and orders and the reasons for making the decision. The judgment will be recorded and a printed copy of the judgment will be sent to the parties after the recording has been transcribed.
Occasionally, the commissioner may need more time to consider what decision to make. In this circumstance, the commissioner will reserve his or her judgment and deliver it at a later time. This may be some weeks after the final hearing. The court will notify the parties when the commissioner is ready to give judgment. The written judgment will be handed down in court on the date notified.The parties will be sent a copy.
Further information is available on:
The orders the court may make are stated in the Trees Act. For applications under s 7 concerning trees, the court may make such orders as it thinks fit to remedy, restrain or prevent damage to property, or to prevent injury to any person, as a consequence of the tree ( s 9(1) of the Trees Act). The Trees Act gives specific examples of the orders the court may make (in s 9(2) of the Trees Act).
For applications under s 14B concerning hedges, the court may make such orders as it thinks fit to remedy, restrain or prevent the severe obstruction of sunlight to a window of a dwelling situated on the applicant’s land, or any view from a dwelling situated on the applicant’s land ( s 14D(1) of the Trees Act). The Trees Act gives specific examples of the orders the court may make (in s 14D(2) of the Trees Act).
If a tree has damaged a dividing fence on the boundary between the neighbouring properties, and the applicant seeks an order for rectification of the damage to the dividing fence, the court may also make an order in relation to the dividing fence (under s 13A of the Dividing Fences Act 1991).
The parties will be given a copy of the judgment containing the orders. The court is also required to give a copy of any order it makes (other than an order dismissing an application) to the council of the local government area in which the tree or hedge is situated and the Heritage Council if the Heritage Council appeared in the proceedings ( s 14 and s 14H of the Trees Act).
The Court’s orders are final and binding on the parties and should be given effect accordingly. If a person fails to comply with the Court’s orders, there are various means available to enforce compliance. The Court has produced notes on enforcement of orders under the Trees Act. These notes explain the consequences of failing to comply with the court’s orders and the means available to enforce them.
A party may appeal against an order or decision of the Court in tree applications on a question of law. As usually the order or decision will be made by a commissioner, the appeal is under s 56A of the Land and Environment Court Act 1979 to a judge of the Land and Environment Court. If, however, the order or decision was made by a judge, the appeal is under s 57 of the Land and Environment Court Act to the NSW Court of Appeal.
Further information is available on appeals.