Planning and Environment Court
District Court - civil
The Planning and Environment Court (P and E) is constituted by judges and hears matters including those relating to:
- planning and development
- environmental protection
- coastal protection and management
- marine parks
- nature conservation
- transport infrastructure
- vegetation management.
Parties do not have to be legally represented in the P and E Court. They may appear personally or be represented by a lawyer or by an agent who is not a lawyer.
The types of proceedings which may be brought in the P and E Court, and the time limits for starting them, depends upon the particular legislation which is relevant to the matter. For example, proceedings which the court may hear under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 include:
- appeals against decisions on development applications
- appeals about infrastructure charges
- appeals against decisions on compensation claims
- appeals from decisions of Building and Development Tribunals
- applications for enforcement orders, to remedy or restrain the commission of a development offence
- applications for declarations
- contempt proceedings.
The P and E Court may sit anywhere in Queensland. Disputes can be heard and determined at a place which is close to the location of the dispute and the community which it affects. Sittings are held not only in Brisbane and other centres where judges are based, but also, where appropriate, in other regional cities, towns and localities, including those which do not have a courthouse.
Judges of the District Court who constitute the P and E Court are based in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Maroochydore and Southport.
The P and E Court practices active supervision of its lists of cases and manages each case individually, through directions hearings. Cases are prepared for trial in accordance with directions orders, made by a judge, at a directions hearing. The progress of each case is regularly monitored and reviewed by judges.
The vast majority of disputes in the P and E Court are resolved or at least narrowed by agreement prior to any final hearing. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is encouraged and provided free of cost in the P and E Court.
Parties to cases are generally required to have a dispute resolution plan, aimed at resolving the issues in dispute prior to trial. These plans commonly include case management conferences and 'without prejudice' meetings between the parties, meeting of expert witnesses (in the absence of the parties or their representatives) and without prejudice meetings chaired by the ADR Registrar. Self represented parties or those represented by an agent who is not a lawyer are strongly encouraged to purchase and read 'The Community Litigants Handbook' fourth edition published and distributed by the Environmental Defenders Office, who can be contacted by telephoning 07 3211 4466.