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Local government

Holding Redlich’s experience representing more than 50 regional and metropolitan councils nationwide has earned us a strong reputation as a leading local government law firm that delivers excellent results.

Local Government

Our lawyers are well known to local councils for their expertise and knowledge in the delivery of legal services across all aspects of council operations.

Expertise

We understand the unique challenges and opportunities that councils are presented with and recognise that, in order to balance the needs of residents and stakeholders with the priorities and legal requirements of local government, a high degree of expertise and engagement is required.

We also understand that each council is different. We work collaboratively with our council clients  to deliver pragmatic and effective advice and solutions that is tailored to support the strategy and objectives of the council and its community.

We are appointed to the panels of Procurement Australia, Local Buy, Local Government Procurement and the Municipal Association of Victoria, as well as many local governments nationally.


Experience

Local government advisory

Our local government advisory team comprises lawyers who have not only acted for government as legal advisors, but have also worked within government. They are adept in providing strategically focussed legal advice on governance, regulatory, legislative and operational issues that affect councils’ daily business, and have a practical insight into the challenges and opportunities that councils face.

Our experience includes:

  • advising on a range of governance, regulatory and legislative issues including with respect to local government powers and responsibilities under the relevant Acts and Regulations
  • drafting and enforcing local laws
  • providing advice on the setting and recovery of rates, charges and fees
  • providing on-call advice and guidance during elections, including with respect to electoral advertising and eligibility of candidates
  • advising on valuation issues and appeals
  • data breach planning, investigation and response
  • responding to regulator investigations and enquiries
  • preparation of instruments of delegation
  • assisting officers to respond to Freedom of Information requests and to comply with privacy legislation.

In addition, our team has appeared in many important cases where government decision-making has been challenged, including in judicial review proceedings and merit reviews.

Property law, state dealings, land acquisition, resumption and compensation

Holding Redlich’s deep knowledge of property and development law is gained through years of acting for local government, state and federal government and private sector clients across the entire spectrum of property and development matters.

Our Property & Real Estate team is closely integrated with other practice areas, including Planning, Environment & Sustainability, Native Title & Cultural Heritage, Construction & Infrastructure and Dispute Resolution & Litigation, ensuring all property related matters are managed in a seamless manner.

Our experience includes:

  • advising local government clients on the interaction between rights and restrictions imposed on operational and community land, together with the ability to develop and grant easements, covenants, licences and other rights in connection with such land
  • drafting and negotiating retail and commercial leases and telecommunications leases and licences as well as the licenses relating to operational and community land
  • advising on compliance with compulsory acquisition processes
  • completing acquisitions and disposals of residential, retail and commercial properties
  • undertaking due diligence in connection with both the acquisition and disposal of assets
  • advising on the subdivision of land including drafting easements, covenants, by-laws and management statements as well as the release and extinguishment of redundant easements and covenants
  • advising on and drafting complex titling, management and governance documents in relation to strata schemes, community schemes and other tiered governance schemes – including how the different structures will allow government to achieve its community focussed goals for specific sites
  • negotiating co-ownership agreements, development agreements, project delivery agreements, joint venture agreements and other co-development arrangements
  • advising on all other matters connected with the development of land
  • advising on matters involving adverse possession of land, protection and defence against interests created by trust, compensation for compulsory purchase, and contested valuations for land tax and rating purposes.

Planning and environment law

Holding Redlich’s strong track record working with local government clients and advising on all areas of planning and environmental law means we have a thorough understanding of the relevant Acts across each state, as well as the many other pieces of environmental and heritage legislation. Our knowledge and experience helps local governments to carry out their statutory functions and continue playing their important role in the community.

In addition to acting for local government, we work with government at the federal and state levels,  as well as energy, waste and utility providers. A number of our team members have worked in the in-house legal teams in public and private organisations, as well as local councils and government agencies, and some team members have a planning or environmental science qualification in addition to their legal qualification. This culmination of experience provides a distinct advantage in servicing and understanding the needs of local government.

Our experience includes:

  • development contributions and planning agreements
  • environmental licensing
  • vegetation clearing and offsets
  • water entitlements
  • infrastructure conditioning and agreements
  • contaminated land
  • environmental laws, including biodiversity conservation legislation, environmental regulation, waste management and contamination
  • compulsory acquisition
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage and European Cultural Heritage advice
  • litigious matters relating to development appeals, judicial review and environmental prosecutions.

Native title and Indigenous cultural heritage

Holding Redlich’s native title and Indigenous cultural heritage team has a combined 50 plus years’ experience representing local governments, government corporations, developers, pastoral holders and other public and private entities as respondent parties to native title claims. We also advise councils on the implications of native title on local government interests and Aboriginal cultural heritage. 

We regularly facilitate training for local government clients on legal compliance obligations and requirements when delivering infrastructure and projects, undertaking State land dealings and undertaking other activities which have the potential to impact upon native title or Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Our experience includes:

  • joining and representing councils in Federal Court hearings, case management, mediation and other dispute resolution forums
  • providing technical and strategic advice on how best to protect and preserve local government interests as part of the resolution of native title claims
  • negotiating the terms of Consent Determination Orders to recognise and protect the local government interests and to resolve the relationship between the exercise of native title and the local government interests in the claim area
  • where consent cannot be achieved, representing councils in contested hearings in the Federal Court
  • advising local governments on the effect that native title has on their interests in the claim area, including tenure, regulatory and statutory interests held under relevant legislation
  • negotiating and drafting Indigenous Land Use Agreements to ensure they provide the best possible protection to local governments and are in a registerable form
  • providing advice on extinguishment of native title on the basis of "previous exclusive possession acts" under the Native Title Act 1993 (NTA) by a prior inconsistent tenure or public works
  • liaising with relevant State Government, Land Councils and other parties
  • preparing Future Act notices in compliance with s 24 of the NTA
  • assisting councils to compulsory acquire native title under s 24M of the NTA
  • commencing Non-Claimant Applications where native title claims do not exist under s 61 of the NTA
  • liaising with Native Title Parties and Land Councils, drafting and serving notices and assisting Councils to respond to comments and queries that may arise in relation to notices.

Workplace relations and safety

Our team regularly advises councils on a broad range of employment and industrial matters, which ensures we have a thorough understanding of the specific complex regulatory and policy framework surrounding industrial relations law for councils. Our advice assists local government clients to reduce legal risks associated with human resource management, including employment relationships and minimising public and media scrutiny in litigated matters.

We advise councils on all aspects of work health and safety issues, including on the interpretation and application of WHS regulations, the implementation of effective WHS systems as well as acting for clients who are subject to investigations, prosecutions and coronial inquests arising out of WHS incidents. We also advise councils in respect of insurance premium disputes and audits with workers compensation insurers and regulators.

Our experience includes:

  • drafting contracts of employment for CEOs and executives
  • advice on delegated authority for council CEOs and other executive officers
  • advice on award and industrial agreement interpretation
  • concluding employee employment
  • disciplinary processes
  • reinstatement applications
  • recovery of overpayment of wages
  • employee entitlements
  • workplace traffic risk management
  • how to best enforce drug and alcohol policies
  • safety systems when working with electricity
  • waste management, including safety issues associated with unlawful dumping of asbestos and asbestos removal
  • professional standards, professional registration, Working With Children checks, “Blue Cards / Yellow Cards”
  • unfair dismissal and adverse action claims
  • representing respondents and witnesses in Crime & Misconduct Commission investigations, including objections and dealing with subsequent charges arising out of professional duties
  • anti-discrimination complaints, workplace and sexual harassment complaints including investigation and defending legal claims
  • workplace misconduct and employee complaint investigations
  • work-related criminal charges against professionals
  • workers’ compensation claims arising out of professional duties.

Construction and infrastructure

Holding Redlich’s Construction & Infrastructure Group advises industry participants at all levels in relation to every aspect of projects, from inception through the project delivery phase to completion, and any disputes that may arise subsequent to completion.

We work closely with councils to facilitate growth and new facilities in their regions, whilst effectively managing contractual and commercial risk and avoiding, minimising and resolving disputes. Our industry experience and expertise ensures that at all times the local governments we act for receive practical and solution-based assistance relevant to their objectives and the particular project.

Our experience includes:

  • preparing contract documents including drafting and negotiating terms and conditions of contract (both bespoke and on the basis of the Australian Standards) and assisting with the review of tender responses
  • reviewing contracts, advising on risks and preparing responses including alternative drafting
  • advising on how to prepare, or to best respond to, contractual claims including claims for variations, latent conditions, extensions of time and delay costs
  • assisting with the preparation of documents to resolve disputes early in accordance with the contract, responding to notices of dispute under the contract and assisting with the early resolution of claims whether by mediation or another form of expert determination
  • assisting contract administration, including advising on the content of contractual correspondence, assisting with the preparation of certificates and general advice during the life of the project
  • running substantively complicated litigation and arbitration matters if early resolution or alternative dispute resolution is unsuccessful.

Our team are recognised industry leaders in relation to security of payment matters with extensive experience acting on behalf of claimants and respondents in large claims made pursuant to the various Security of Payment Acts.

Probity and procurement

Our experienced team assists local and state government to ensure the highest probity and integrity in the procurement process. We provide advice on inviting and evaluating tenders and expressions of interest for the acquisition and disposal of assets and services. Our procurement team has extensive experience in drafting tender documentation including invitations, requests, specifications and conditions of contract compliant with the relevant Acts and Regulations.

Our advice will ensure that your procurement processes are considered, compliant and undertaken in a practical way that minimises your risk, maximises opportunities and meets your objectives. We also assist councils in the occasional event of administrative challenges to tender processes.

We have a track record of proactive guidance, such that decisions or projects that might otherwise have been susceptible to cancellation, public backlash or abandonment through poor decision making or a lack of appreciation of the probity compliant options that are available, have successfully continued and the process upheld under our close management and probity advice.

Water, waste and recycling

We know water is in short supply and must be managed carefully. Our team regularly works with councils, state government departments and agencies, and water authorities to provide legal services that support the protection of water quality and quantity over the long term. We provide a holistic service by leveraging our knowledge of the relevant legislation and combining our experience in planning, environmental and property law.

Maintaining sustainable waste management and recycling is becoming an increasing challenge for local government. Holding Redlich applies its broad understanding of the commercial development and operation of waste management and recycling facilities to support councils to reduce waste sent to landfill, increase organic waste recovery, deliver community, environment and economic benefits, and plan for a growing population.

Litigation and debt recovery

Our national dispute resolution and litigation team has a strong record of acting in a diverse range of disputes and inquiries, representing clients traversing government and statutory authorities, corporations, partnerships and individuals.

We represent local government in the most complex commercial litigation through to assisting with the collection of outstanding rates, charges and other debts. We have extensive experience in representing clients in Commissions of Inquiry and investigations, as well as broad scale litigation involving statutory interpretation, governmental grants, issues of delegation of authority and questions of admissibility of a Minister’s second reading speech. We also represent councils in enforcement proceedings and in all dispute resolution forums including mediation and arbitration.

We are acutely aware of the potential for publicity arising from disputes, and we commonly work with internal and external media advisers to ensure that our client’s message is consistent with its public persona and the dispute strategy.

Recent Posts

15 December 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

We wrap-up the latest news, legislation and developments relevant to local governments.

01 December 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

In this edition, we summarise the key statutory and policy requirements under the Local Government Act that govern land transactions by councils in Victoria.

25 November 2020 - Knowledge

IBAC warns that misuse of personal information could amount to corrupt conduct

#Data & Privacy, #Local Government, #Corporate & Commercial Law

Local governments collect and manage a considerable range of personal information when delivering services which are so integral in our daily lives.

17 November 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

The NSW Government has announced the Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme to help Councils until June 2025 pay for loans to provide much-needed upgrades and infrastructure maintenance.

04 November 2020 - Knowledge

How the Building and Development Certifiers Act affects council certifiers

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #Property & Real Estate, #Construction & Infrastructure, #Local Government

The Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 has been in place since 1 July 2020. We examine how the changes impact council certifiers.

03 November 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government, #Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #Property & Real Estate, #Construction & Infrastructure

In this edition, we examine how the Building and Development Certifiers Act 2018 affects council certifiers.

19 October 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

The Treasurer says the 2020 budget will help rebuild the economy by building more roads, rail and bridges.

14 October 2020 - Knowledge

New regulation streamlines sale of land by Queensland local government

#Local Government

The Queensland Government has passed a new regulation to simplify the sale of land through auction or negotiation by local governments for overdue rates. We outline what the new provisions are.

06 October 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

A recent failed challenge to the Sunshine Coast Mayoral election prompts aspiring and successful candidates of the potential tripwires they should be aware of before, during and after their campaigns.

22 September 2020 - Knowledge

Inside track: Local Government

#Local Government

We summarise the key concepts regarding the appointment of councils as the committee of management and their obligations to the leasing and licensing of Crown land.

16 September 2020 - Knowledge

Alfresco dining in Victoria: Enjoying the sun without litigation

#Workplace Relations & Safety, #Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #Local Government, #COVID-19

The new Victorian Government Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package creates new opportunities for local government and hospitality sector to revitalise the economy. In embracing this new initiative, our hosts need to think about potential legal exposure.

09 September 2020 - Knowledge

Updating your procurement policies under the Local Government Act 2020 (Vic)

#Procurement, #Local Government

We examine how the new Local Government Act 2020 will impact local governments’ procurement process and policies.