Neighbourhood Tree Disputes: Report (html)



A common law self-help remedy that in the context of this report allows affected neighbours to remove parts of a tree that encroach onto their land up to their boundary line.

Affected neighbour

The person whose land (or use of the land) is affected by the neighbour’s tree; usually the plaintiff (aggrieved party) in court proceedings.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

Any formal process, other than court or tribunal proceedings, in which an impartial person assists parties to resolve their disputes.


A qualified professional trained in cultivating, caring for, and maintaining trees.

Australian Qualification Framework (AQF)

The national policy for regulating qualifications in Australian education and training, incorporating the qualifications from each education and training sector into a single comprehensive national framework. The AQF sets out specific formal training standards for arborists and people working in the tree-care industry.

Cause of action

The facts that give rise to a legal claim and entitle a person to have a matter heard in a tribunal or court.


A term used in the report to describe a negative impact on property or land, including property being destroyed.

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV)

Government-funded provider of free dispute settlement services to the Victorian community.

Diversity jurisdiction

The authority to exercise judicial power to resolve disputes between residents of different states.


When a tree (or parts of a tree) crosses over boundary lines and enters adjoining land.


A term used in the report to describe an impact on the health or safety of a person, including injury or death.

Informal dispute resolution

Negotiating an outcome outside court or tribunal proceedings. It encompasses legal methods such as mediation, and interpersonal methods such as neighbours talking to each other to resolve a dispute.


The authority of a court or tribunal to hear cases brought to it.

Local laws

Laws passed by local councils to protect public health, safety and amenity. Tree protection laws are an example of local laws.


A method of dispute resolution that involves bringing parties together to discuss a dispute and reach an agreement.

Land and Environment Court of New South Wales (NSWLEC)

In New South Wales, the court that hears neighbourhood tree disputes.

Online dispute resolution (ODR)

A range of technology-assisted methods for resolving disputes.

Planning scheme

A planning scheme is a statutory document which sets out objectives, policies and provisions for the use and development

of land.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

In Queensland, the tribunal that hears neighbourhood tree disputes.

Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT)

In Tasmania, the tribunal that hears neighbourhood tree disputes.

Responsible authority

Under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic), a responsible authority, usually the local council, is the party responsible for the administration and enforcement of a planning scheme.


The right to bring proceedings before a court or tribunal. To have standing in a case a person must be able to show that they have sufficient interest in the case, for example, because of possible effects on themselves, their property or activities.

Statutory scheme

A scheme based on specific legislation passed by Parliament, rather than on the common law (judge-made law).


A civil wrong, and type of cause of action. Nuisance, negligence and trespass to land are types of torts.

Tree owner

The person who owns the land on which the relevant tree is located.

Urban forest

The urban forest refers to trees and other vegetation growing in urban space. Many Victorian councils have policies relating to the protection and preservation of the urban forest.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

In Victoria, the tribunal that hears civil and administrative claims.

Victorian Planning Provisions (VPPs)

A set of stardard planning provisions that are incorporated into local planning schemes.

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