Compulsory acquisitions at Walker and Thomas Streets, Dandenong, have caused loss to businesses and individuals alike. Like all acquiring authorities, it is essential that the aquiring authority, in this case the Urban Renewal Authority, takes into account the cultural divide and difference in legal understanding, which is so relevant in multicultural Victoria.
It is always of great concern for anyone to sign an agreement to lose their business and land without first obtaining advice about their rights during the compulsory acquisition process. It is important to understand that the costs for independent legal and other advice in the process is treated separately from the compensation claim – this is designed to produce a fair result for those affected.
Generally, the necessary and reasonable costs involved in this process are paid by the acquiring authority. Aitken Partners expects that an acquiring authority should encourage such persons to obtain independent legal advice so the fairness of the process is protected.
Anyone who has signed an agreement without proper advice may be able to claim that the agreement is unenforceable and should talk to us immediately to discuss their rights. Not only do you need legal advice, but you need lawyers who understand the entire process and are familiar with the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 (‘the Act’).
Authorities regularly prepare agreements before paying the advance of compensation or settlement of a claim. Sometimes those agreements are inappropriate and we have frequently advised clients against signing the agreements until the inappropriate portions are removed, particularly if the agreement demands more from claimants than the acquiring authority is entitled to.
Again, we stress the importance of seeking appropriate advice at a time of great stress.