Property: Terms of Reference

In August 2009, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to review Victoria's Property laws under the following terms of reference:

1)  The Victorian Law Reform Commission is to review and report on the desirability of changes to Victoria’s property laws in relation to -

a)         the Property Law Act 1958; and
b)         easements and covenants.

2)       In conducting the review, the Commission should have regard to -

  • the aims of the Attorney-General’s Justice Statement 2, in particular to simplify and modernise the law, and reduce the costs associated with the justice system;
  • relevant, contemporaneous reviews or policies in the field in other jurisdictions, both within Australia and internationally;
  • opportunities for harmonisation with laws of other Australian jurisdictions; developments in technology, including the availability of electronic conveyancing;
  • the scope for reducing the administrative and/or compliance burden imposed on business and the not for profit sector, in line with the Government’s Reducing the Regulatory Burden initiative; and
  • social and demographic trends and new approaches to planning and sustainable land use and risk in Victoria.

3) The purpose of the review is to ensure that the laws under review are transparent, accessible and support an efficient and effective system of property rights and transactions in Victoria.

4) In particular, the Commission should consider -

  • Any necessary changes to ensure that the Property Law Act 1958 is certain, effective and up to date.  This may include, but is not limited to, any reforms required to modernise and/or simplify the language in the Act, clarify meanings that are in doubt, remove obsolete provisions, or improve the overall functioning of the Act.
  • The operation of the law of easements and covenants broadly, and any beneficial changes to streamline planning processes and/or relevant property laws and practices, as well as options to facilitate simpler and cheaper processes.  This should incorporate a consideration of the interrelationship, and opportunities for harmonisation and increased clarity across the rules, practices and Acts, including the Transfer of Land Act 1958,Property Law Act 1958, Subdivision Act 1988 and Planning and Environment Act 1987, amongst others, that govern easements and covenants.

The Commission is also asked to report on any related issues that are identified during the course of the review and that may warrant further investigation.

The Commission is to report regarding the Property Law Act 1958 by 30 September 2010, and to report regarding easements and covenants by 17 December 2010.


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