Origin of the project

1.30 As well as inquiring into matters referred to it by the Attorney-General, the Commission has the power to initiate its own projects under its community law reform function.

1.31 This function involves inquiring into ‘relatively minor legal issues that are of general community concern’.[20] The term ‘relatively minor’ means limited in size and scope. It does not mean that the subject matter of the project is insignificant. These projects are referred to as ‘community law reform projects’, and are often initially suggested to the Commission by community members or groups.

1.32 The terms of section 5(1)(b) of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic) mandate that community law reform projects ‘will not require a significant deployment of the resources available to the Commission’. Accordingly, the Commission considered the priorities of subject matter, and concluded that the subject matter should be:

disputes between neighbours about trees on private neighbouring land that cause damage and/or harm (‘neighbourhood tree disputes’).

1.33 To limit the size of the inquiry, the Commission decided not to investigate disputes concerning trees situated on public land, nor disputes concerning the obstruction of sunlight and views by neighbouring trees. The full terms of reference are set out at vii of this consultation paper.


  1. Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic) s 5(1)(b).