- A recent Court of Appeal decision has narrowed the scope of compensation for many resumed businesses, notwithstanding a clear statutory obligation to ‘justly compensate’ them.
- There is now uncertainty about whether ‘financial costs’ include financial losses.
- Given the likelihood that many more claims for compensation will find their way to the courts as more public projects are rolled out across NSW, Parliament might consider clarifying the statutory promise of ‘just compensation’.
When land on which a business is conducted is resumed for a public purpose, compensation for the owners of that business (typically under a lease) must be assessed under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (‘Just Terms Act‘). A recent NSW Court of Appeal (‘CoA’) decision has narrowed the amount payable to such business owners notwithstanding a clear statutory obligation to ‘justly compensate’ them (ss (3)(1)(b) and 54(1)).
On 6 March 2019, a full bench of the CoA handed down judgment in Roads and Maritime Services v United Petroleum Pty Ltd  NSWCA 41 (‘United’). Although the Court’s decision was unanimous, the reasoning propounded in the four separate judgments was not uniform.