Applications for contempt of Tribunal

I have recently had reason to read the case of Banyule CC v Tomasevic [2011] VCAT 2377, decided in December 2011. This is a case which deals with an application for contempt of the Tribunal for non-compliance with an enforcement order made by the Tribunal.

The case is interesting for practitioners in this jurisdiction who are often asked by clients “what happens if I don’t comply with an enforcement order“.

Tomasevic clearly sets out the matters that must be established to prove contempt. The case confirms that VCAT retains a discretion to dismiss an application for contempt even if a contempt is technically made out. A link to the case can be found here.

VCAT’s power to amend a permit granted by consent.

I have previously written on section 87A of the Planning and Environment Act which allows the Tribunal to amend a permit granted by the Tribunal.

In Exploration Lane Developments Pty Ltd v Melbourne CC [2012] VCAT 152, the Tribunal has used this power to allow amendments to plans to increase the height of a building by 9 storeys.

The case is interesting because it involves a permit issued by the Tribunal as a consequence of an application for a consent order by the parties. Council argued that these circumstances made it inappropriate for the use of section 87A. The Tribunal said

  • As to background this hearing, the first Tribunal decision about this matter, was based on an application for a consent order.  There was no mediation before the Tribunal and no hearing at which the Tribunal considered the proposal’s merits.  
  • The consent order did not involve any concessions by the permit applicant in relation to the building’s height as indicated on the drawings that Council had considered. 
  • Section 87A of the Planning & Environment Act 1987 provides a wide discretion to the Tribunal, stating that the Tribunal may amend a permit issued at its direction if the Tribunal considers that “it is appropriate to do so”.  The Act does not specify any relevant considerations.  It now appears to be widely accepted that the scope of the Tribunal’s consideration should be limited to the effect of the amendment as it would vary the approved development, rather than undertaking a review of the amended proposal de novo.