Australia: Yeats Consulting Pty Ltd v Logan City Council: jurisdiction of the court

Yeats Consulting Pty Ltd v Logan City Council: When a Chief Executive Officer of a local government personally makes a decision for the purposes of establishing appeal rights.


This In Brief examines the recent Planning and Environment Court decision of Yeats Consulting Pty Ltd trading as Sedgman Yeats [2014] QPEC 2. The Court clarified that a decision of a local government officer to issue an environmental protection order ("EPO") by way of delegated authority under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) ("EPA"), is not a personal decision of the Chief Executive Officer of the relevant local government or a decision of the local government itself.


The appellants were the lawful owners of the relevant land which was subject to an EPO first issued on 17 June 2013, withdrawn and reissued with amendments on 27 June 2013 and again withdrawn and reissued on the same day to correct a typographical error. The appellant instituted two appeals against the Council issuing the EPOs which were substantively dealt with in mediation but with the question of costs reserved. The question of costs was the subject of this decision.

Council argued that the appellant was not entitled to costs as, procedurally, the Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the appeal.1

Under the EPA, a 'dissatisfied person' must first apply for an internal review of an 'original decision' before they can apply to the Court for review.2 A dissatisfied person who is dissatisfied with a review decision may initiate an appeal to the Court.3 Only if the decision was made "by the local government itself or the chief executive officer of the local government personally" can a dissatisfied person appeal directly to the Court without first seeking internal review.4

Here, if the issue of the EPO (an original decision for the purposes of the EPA) was found to be made by the local government itself or the chief executive officer of the local government personally, the internal review process would not apply and the appellant would have been entitled to appeal directly to the Court enlivening its power to determine the appeal and award costs.


The appellants argued that the internal review process was not applicable because the decision to issue the EPO was a decision made by the chief executive officer personally.5

They argued the evidence that while the decision was signed by a Council officer, the decision was made by the CEO personally because it included the use of words "on the behalf of Chris Rose, Chief Executive Officer". Furthermore, the appellant argued that because the decision annexed extracts of the EPA relating to appeal rights (which wouldn't have been included if an appeal wasn't possible) and that any ambiguity surrounding the making of the EPO should not be construed in favour of the Council.

The Council argued that the decision to issue the EPO was actually made by the Council compliance officer under his delegated authority and the words "on the behalf of Chris Rose, Chief Executive Officer" was just evidence that the officer was technically employed by, and answerable to, the CEO. Phrases such as "the Council seeks to ensure compliance" make it abundantly clear that the orders were issued by Council, acting through its delegate, who himself decided to issue and sign the EPO. They further argued this was supported by the inclusion of the internal review provision extracts, which Council says would not have been provided if an internal review was impossible.


The Court rejected the appellant's arguments as untenable as it is who actually made the decisions which is the relevant consideration, not the way in which the decision is conveyed.6 As the original decisions are made by whoever issued the documents, it is the compliance officer under delegated authority who made the decisions and not the CEO personally.7 Therefore, the exemption did not apply, the appellants could not appeal directly to court without first having gone through the internal review process. As the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal, the application for costs was dismissed.


While the Council was ultimately successful in the proceeding, this case serves as a timely reminder of the practical drafting issues that repeatedly face local governments. Various pieces of legislation under which local governments act often prescribe different requirements for the issue of statutory notices.

For example, under s451 of the EPA, the administering authority may give a notice requiring the recipient to give the authority information but the notice may only be given if the authority suspects on reasonable grounds that person has knowledge of a relevant matter. If an officer, other than the CEO, is to issue the EPO or the Notice requiring information, there must be a delegation under s518 of the EPA to the authorised person. Yet, under section 465 of the EPA, an authorised person may exercise the power to require information from a person (when he or she suspects on reasonable grounds) that an offence has occurred and that person may be able to provide information,

With respect to "authorised persons" Councils should not be complacent about the words "appropriately qualified employee" as used in s517 of the EPA. This section allows the CEO to delegate to subordinates, provided they are appropriately qualified. Therefore, it is recommended that the employee be assessed for expertise or undergo a basic level of training regarding each and every Act that they will administer and enforce before becoming an "authorised person".

As a starting point, it is important that local governments ensure that it has delegated its powers accordingly and are conscious about when an officer is acting under delegated power and when the officer is acting as an authorised person. It is recommended that when acting as a delegate, that the word "delegate" actually be used in the statutory notice. Likewise, when an officer is acting in his or her "authorised person" capacity, those words be used on statutory notices or correspondence. This practice may not strictly be required but it serves two purposes:

  • it clarifies the situation to the recipient of the notice; and
  • it may serve to highlight the capacity under which the notice is given to the issuing officer who then may be prompted to check his or her authorising paperwork.

Some enforcement action, including prosecutions, have been abandoned by administering authorities before being heard in court because of problems with delegations and authorised person appointments.

Delegations and authorised persons documents should be accessible and routinely maintained.

Further, when local government legislation is enacted or substantially amended, it is prudent to review delegations for precise drafting reflecting the context of that legislation.


1See paragraph [11] of Searles DCJ reasons for judgment.

2Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) ("EPA") section 521.

3EPA section 531(1).

4Ibid section 521(12).

5This is the exception to section 521 provided in section 521(12).

6See paragraph [41] of the reasons.

7Ibid paragraph [43].

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Most awarded firm and Australian deal of the year
Australasian Legal Business Awards
Employer of Choice for Women
Equal Opportunity for Women
in the Workplace (EOWA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.