Our process | Land Access Ombudsman

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Land Access Ombudsman

Our aim is to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently, with as little formality and technicality as possible.

Our process involves 3 key stages:

  1. Assessment
  2. Investigation
  3. Outcome

Assessing your dispute

Once we receive your dispute form, our first step is to contact you to confirm the issues.

We then make inquiries to assess whether or not we can investigate the dispute. We may:

  • review your conduct and compensation agreement (CCA) or make good agreement (MGA)
  • contact the other party, by telephone and/or in writing, to invite them to provide an initial response
  • contact the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) and/or the Department of Environment and Science (DES) to check whether the matter has been the subject of any investigation
  • contact the Land Court about whether the matter is or has been the subject of any proceeding before the Court.

You will be provided with a copy of any initial response received from the other party for your review and comment back to us.

We may decline to investigate a matter if:

  • you have not made a reasonable attempt to resolve the dispute with the other party
  • you have not given us reasonable help with our preliminary inquiries
  • the matter is frivolous, vexatious or has not been made in good faith
  • the matter is trivial
  • an investigation is unnecessary or unjustifiable.

If we decide not to investigate your matter, we will notify you of our decision and give reasons for the decision. We will also try to help you contact an agency or body who may be able to help you.

We may also decide to refer your matter to a regulator, such as DNRME or DES, for investigation. We will let you know if this is the case and help you make contact with the relevant agency.

Investigating your dispute

If we decide to investigate your dispute, we will appoint one of our investigators, who will issue an investigation notice to the other party.

Preliminary investigation

The investigator will look at all the information provided by you and the other party involved, and assess:

  • the impact of the other party’s actions
  • the outcome you want
  • whether an investigation is likely to lead to a positive outcome for you and/or lead to a change in the other party’s behaviour
  • whether you and the other party are willing to participate in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, such as case appraisal, conciliation or mediation.

During this stage the investigator will contact you to discuss your dispute. Generally our inquiries will be conducted over the telephone.

At this point there can be a number of outcomes. The investigator may:

  • determine that your dispute does not need to be investigated further
  • work with you and the other party to achieve an outcome
  • continue their investigation.

Full investigation

When a matter proceeds to a full investigation, we will usually travel to the district where the land is located to conduct face-to face meetings with you and/or the other party.

We may also:

  • require you and/or the other party to provide additional information and documents about the dispute
  • hold meetings and conduct interviews with you and/or the other party
  • undertake site visits
  • make inquiries and consult with entities that have relevant technical expertise
  • request relevant information from government agencies
  • advise each party about the merits of their position
  • provide information about health services.

In appropriate cases, we may offer parties the opportunity to participate in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process  such as case appraisal, conciliation or mediation, which brings the parties together to try and come to a solution.

Outcomes

If we believe the other party has acted unfairly, unreasonably or contrary to law, we will make a recommendation to remedy the conduct.

If the conduct involves a possible offence or breach of a resource authority condition, we may also refer the matter to the appropriate government department for further investigation.

Alternatively, if we believe that the other party has acted fairly and in accordance with the terms of your CCA or MGA, this view will be expressed and explained to you.

We will issue a draft notice of investigation outcome and invite both you and the other party to make submissions. We will consider any submissions before issuing a final notice.

If your dispute has been resolved as a result of our investigation, the notice will include details of the resolution.

If the dispute is not resolved, the notice will include:

  • advice about the merits of your position and the other party’s position
  • recommendations about how the dispute could be resolved (i.e. how the conduct could or should be remedied)
  • reasons for the advice and recommendations.

Our recommendations are not binding and are provided to parties as information or advice only. We cannot force you or the other party to follow our recommendations, but it is expected that they would be accepted.

Further options

If you are not happy with our advice and recommendations, you can:

  • apply to the Land Court for a binding decision – the notice of investigation outcome issued by us may be used as evidence in the proceeding
  • contact DNRME for advice on conferencing options that may be available to you
  • pursue private ADR at your own expense.

For complaints relating to resource or environmental legislation, please contact DNRME on 137 107 or resources.info@dnrme.qld.gov.au.

Timeframes

The time we need to complete an investigation depends on the complexity of the dispute and the amount of information we need to collect. We aim to complete our investigations within 3 months, although we expect straightforward matters will be finalised much more quickly than that.

We will keep you informed about our progress and let you know if an investigation is going to take longer.

Commitment to natural justice

Our investigations are not bound by the rules of evidence, but we will comply with natural justice. This means we will:

  • inform each party of any allegations made against them
  • provide each party with the opportunity to put their case, whether in writing or orally
  • hear all parties and consider submissions
  • make reasonable inquiries or investigations before formulating our advice and recommendations
  • only take into account relevant factors
  • act fairly and without bias
  • conduct our investigation without unnecessary delay
  • ensure that a full record of the investigation is made.

We will maintain confidentiality at all times and protect your personal and commercial information.

Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need legal representation to refer a dispute to us.

You can, however, seek our permission if you wish for a lawyer or someone else to represent you at meetings you have been summoned to attend by way of a notice issued by our investigator. We may or may not grant your request, depending on the circumstances. We cannot unreasonably refuse your request.

Last updated 09 Nov 2018