How the court works

The Planning and Environment Court (P and E Court) hears matters relating to:

  • planning and development
  • environmental protection
  • coastal protection and management
  • fisheries
  • marine parks
  • nature conservation
  • heritage
  • transport infrastructure
  • vegetation management.

Types of proceedings

The types of proceedings brought in the P and E Court, and the time limits for starting them, depends on the legislation relevant to the matter.

For example, the court may hear the following proceedings under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009:

  • 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.

You don’t need legal representation to bring a matter to the P and E Court. You may appear personally, or be represented by a lawyer or an agent who isn’t a lawyer.

Find out how to start a proceeding in the P and E Court.

Where the court sits

The P and E Court regularly hears cases in Brisbane and other major centres, including Southport, Maroochydore, Townsville and Cairns. See the contact details for these courts.

The P and E Court can hear matters outside these major centres depending on the nature of the case.

Wherever possible, the court ensures that local residents are able to observe the proceedings that affect their community.

If necessary, the court conducts at least part of the hearing in a courtroom (or other suitable premises) near the disputed land or building. In this case, you should raise the question of sitting away from Brisbane early in the proceeding.

Process

The P and E Court actively supervises its case lists and manages each case individually through directions hearings.

Cases are prepared for trial in line with directions orders, made by a judge, at a directions hearing. The progress of each case is regularly monitored and reviewed by judges. Read about the various hearings and reviews you may need to attend.

Alternative dispute resolution

The vast majority of disputes in the P and E Court are resolved, or at least narrowed, by agreement before any final hearing. The court encourages alternative dispute resolution and provides this service free of charge.

Parties are usually required to have a dispute resolution plan to help resolve issues before trial. The plans usually include:

  • case management conferences and 'without prejudice' meetings between the parties
  • meeting of expert witnesses (without parties or their representatives)
  • ‘without prejudice’ meetings chaired by the ADR Registrar.

Read about the alternative dispute resolution process in P and E Court.

Representing yourself

You can choose to represent yourself in the P and E Court or have an agent who is not a lawyer represent you. Read what to be aware of when you represent yourself.