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Civil Enforcement

Any person can bring civil enforcement proceedings. Civil enforcement proceedings are also called 'judicial review' and 'Class 4' proceedings.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and the Local Government Act 1993  both contain 'open standing' provisions which give any person the right to bring proceedings to enforce those laws.

In addition, the Protection of the Environment (Operations) Act 1997 (pollution laws) give any person the right to bring civil enforcement proceedings to remedy or restrain a breach, and to restrain a breach or of any other act if it is likely to cause environmental harm.

Civil enforcement differ from criminal proceedings in that the objective is not to punish the person who has broken the law, but to restore compliance with the law.

The orders a court can make in civil cases include:

  • declarations – a legally binding statement a development is illegal, or that a breach of an act has occurred
  • injunctions – an order restraining someone from doing something
  • demolition or removal orders
  • remediation orders – ordering remediation on a site.

If a person fails to comply with an order of the court, they may be in contempt of court and could receive a fine, have property sequestered, or even be imprisoned.

Legal advice

Council does not provide legal advice on unlawful building and development activities. It is recommended that people seek legal advice before commencing any legal proceeding.

Legal resources

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