Neighbourhood Tree Disputes - make a submission

The Commission is seeking the community’s views on neighbourhood tree disputes. Your input will help us to develop recommendations for reform.

Before you respond, we strongly encourage you to read the consultation paper, which sets out information and options, and provides more context about the issues being discussed. Each question in the form below is explained in the consultation paper.

You do not have to answer all questions - you can answer as many or as few as you like. You can make a submission using the form below - just click 'Submit' when you have finished. Alternatively you can email or post your submission to us as a Word document or pdf. (Where do I send it?)

Your submission will be published on our website unless you ask us to keep it confidential. You can choose your preferred confidentiality option below.

We will not place on our website, or make available to the public, submissions that contain offensive or defamatory comments or which are outside the scope of the reference.

The Commission will consider all responses in developing recommendations, and may use or refer to responses in the final report. The report will be provided to the Government and published on the Commission’s website.

Submissions are due by 28 February 2018.

How would you like us to treat your submission? Choose one of the following and enter it in the box below:

(a) Publish my submission and my name on the VLRC website

(b) Publish my submission but not my name

(c) Keep my submission confidential (do not publish it)

1 Have you been involved in a neighbourhood tree dispute? What was it about and what was the outcome?

2 Have you been involved in a DSCV mediation about a neighbourhood tree dispute? What was your experience?

3 Have you been involved in a Victorian court case about a neighbourhood tree dispute? What was your experience?

4 Are the current law and process for resolving neighbourhood tree disputes in Victoria satisfactory? If not, why not?

5 Are there any aspects of international jurisdictions’ approaches to resolving neighbourhood tree disputes that should be considered in Victoria?

6 If the existing system is retained, are there any specific changes necessary to improve it?

7 Should a statutory scheme for resolving tree disputes be adopted in Victoria? What should the overarching aims of a new scheme be?

8 What type of vegetation should be covered by a statutory scheme? Is there any vegetation that should not be covered?

9 Should the application of a statutory scheme be limited to land in particular zones? If so, which zones?

10 Should there be a requirement that the affected neighbour’s land adjoin the tree owner’s land? If so, how should the relevant degree of proximity be defined?

11 How should trees that are partially on the tree owner’s land be dealt with under a statutory scheme?

12 Who should have standing to bring a legal action in tree disputes under a new scheme?

13 Who should be liable for harm or damage caused under a new scheme?

14 Should interference (not causing damage) be actionable under a new scheme? If so what degree of interference?

15 What degree of damage should be sufficient to bring an action under a new scheme?

16 What kind of damage should be covered under a new scheme? Should damage include damage to land itself, or only to property on the land?

17 Should future damage be actionable under a statutory scheme? If so, should a particular time period be specified?

18 What degree of harm should be sufficient to bring an action under a statutory scheme?

19 How should the relevant subject of the harm be determined? Should harm include harm to occupiers only, to others on the land, or to anyone at all?

20 Should future harm be actionable under a statutory scheme? If so, should a particular time period be specified?

21 Which court/s or tribunal should have jurisdiction over neighbourhood tree disputes under a statutory scheme?

22 What preconditions, if any, should parties have to satisfy under a statutory scheme before any orders are made?

24 Should there be a hierarchy or relative weight for each of these factors? If so, how should this be determined?

25 What types of orders should be available under a statutory scheme?

26 How should these orders be enforced?

27 Should the common law right of abatement remain available to affected neighbours under a statutory scheme? Should it be modified in any way?

28 To what extent, if any, should orders made under a statutory scheme override or modify:

(a) local laws?

(b) other legislation?

29 What factors should be taken into account in relation to the appointment or qualifications of experts giving evidence about neighbourhood tree disputes?

30 Should the decision-making body issue guidelines or model reports to guide expert evidence?

31 Should new owners of land who take the place of the affected neighbour be bound by the outcome of legal action regarding relevant trees on the land?

32 Should new owners of land who take the place of the tree owner be bound by the outcome of legal action regarding relevant trees on the land?

33 At what point during the sale and/or transfer of land process should a purchaser become bound by the outcome of legal action:

(a) on transfer of title?

(b) on entering into a contract of sale?

(c) at some other time?

34 Should new owners be joined as a party to a proceeding that is already underway?If so, at which point of the sale and/or transfer of land process?

35 Should a searchable database of orders relating to trees be made available in Victoria?

36 What types of resources should be made available to community members to complement a statutory scheme?

37 Should an online dispute resolution platform dedicated to neighbourhood tree disputes be introduced in Victoria? If so, what tools should be made available on this platform and who should administer it?

38 Are there any other specific features of a statutory scheme that the Commission should consider?

39 Do you have an alternative option for reform that you would like to see introduced in Victoria?

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