The Land Court's task on an objections hearing is to
make a recommendation on the grant of a mining lease or
environmental authority, not to determine existing or future rights
The Queensland Supreme Court has recently ruled that the
Queensland Land Court's hearings of applications and objections
under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) (MRA)
and the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld)
(EPA) are not "proceedings". As a
consequence, the Court rules in relation to disclosure in the
course of legal proceedings do not apply.
The case has implications for the status of objections hearings
in the Land Court, and reinforces that the recommendation made by
the Land Court on an objections hearing is administrative in
character, and therefore is subject to judicial review rather than
Applications under the MRA and EPA
In BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal Pty Ltd v Isdale  QSC 107, BHP
applied for an additional surface area for its mining leases under
the MRA and applied to amend the associated environmental authority
under the EPA.
Mr and Mrs Baulch, the second respondents, lodged objections to
both applications. The applications and objections then came before
the Land Court for an objections hearing decision.
Land Court objections hearings are not
The Land Court ruled that BHP was required to make disclosure of
documents under Chapter 7 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules
1999, which applies to a "proceeding" in the Court.
The Supreme Court held that the objections hearing in the Land
Court was not a "proceeding" and therefore Chapter 7 did
not apply to import a duty of disclosure.
While the legal characterisation of what is a
"proceeding" is instructive, the real impact of the case
is on the management of matters in the Land Court for objections
Implications of the decision
The decision reinforces previous authorities on the correct
characterisation of the Land Court's recommendation on an
objections hearing under both the MRA and EPA. The decision is
significant in its implications, including that:
the Land Court's recommendation as an "administrative
decision" is a reviewable decision for the Judicial Review Act
the Land Court's task on an objections hearing is to make a
recommendation on the grant of a mining lease or environmental
authority, not to determine existing or future rights or
the Land Court cannot make orders for disclosure in an
objections hearing, and the material before the Land Court in
making its recommendation (generally the application, objections
and other evidence) cannot be expanded by disclosure;
by necessary implication, there are other rules of procedure
that will not be applicable to an objections hearing in the Land
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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