We try to resolve disputes simply and efficiently.
Our process involves 3 key stages:
Assessing your dispute
After you submit your dispute form, we will contact you to confirm your issues.
We will make inquiries to consider whether we can investigate the dispute. We will:
- 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 Resources (DoR) 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.
We will provide a copy of any response received from the other party for your feedback.
We may decline to investigate a dispute 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 trivial, aggravating or has not been made in good faith.
- An investigation is unnecessary or unjustifiable.
If we decline to investigate your dispute, we will notify you of our reasons. However, we will refer you to an agency or body who may be able to help with your issue/s.
We may also decide to refer your matter to a regulator for investigation, such as the Department of Resources or Department of Environment and Science. If this happens, you will be informed, and we will help you to contact 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.
The investigator will look at the information provided by you and the other party involved, and consider:
- The impact of the other party’s actions.
- The outcome you want.
- If an investigation is likely to lead to a positive outcome for you and/or lead to a change in the other party’s behaviour.
- If you and the other party are willing to participate in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process,
- such as case appraisal, conciliation or mediation.
At this stage the investigator will contact you by phone to discuss your dispute.
The investigator may:
When a dispute proceeds to a full investigation, we will travel to the location of the dispute to meet with both parties in person.
- Require you and/or the other party to provide extra 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 technical expertise on the matter.
- Request information from government agencies.
- Advise each party about the merits of their position.
- Provide information about health services.
We may also offer parties the opportunity to participate in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process such as case appraisal, conciliation or mediation. The aim of ADR is to bring the parties together, to find an agreeable solution.
If we believe the other party has acted unfairly, unreasonably, or illegally, we will make recommendations to rectify the behaviour or actions. If the behaviour involves an offence or breach of a resource authority condition, we will refer the matter to the government department responsible for investigation.
If we believe that the other party has acted fairly and in accordance with the terms of your CCA or MGA, this will be expressed and explained to you in our notice of investigation outcome.
A draft notice of investigation outcome is issued to both parties to the dispute. Once received, both parties are invited to make a submission about the outcome of our investigation. All submissions are considered by the LAO before issuing a final notice of investigation. If your dispute is resolved because of our investigation, the final notice will include details of the resolution. If the dispute is not resolved, the notice will include:
- advice based on the facts of your position and the other party’s position
- recommendations about how the dispute could be resolved
- our reasons for the advice and recommendations given.
It is important to note that 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.
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 the Department of Resources 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 the Department of Resources on 137 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The time we need to complete an investigation is determined by the difficulty of the dispute and the amount of information we need to collect. We aim to complete our investigations within three months, although we expect straightforward matters to be finalised sooner.
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 consider 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 always maintain confidentiality 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, seek permission to have a lawyer or someone else represent you at meetings where our investigator has summoned you to attend by way of a notice.
Last updated: 09 Dec 2022