Law On the Road
It’s often said that the best way to resolve conflict is to avoid getting into conflict in the first place.
The reasoning is simple - the other options are unpleasant and expensive.
It is with that in mind that the Land Court of Queensland is taking the unprecedented step of engaging directly with landholders at community leader forums in country Queensland to demystify the Land Court process.
Member of the Land Court, Her Honour Peta Stilgoe, is working closely with the GasFields Commission to outline the court’s alternative dispute resolution options and explain exactly how the Land Court process works.
Ms Stilgoe told a recent forum in Yuleba, “In many ways, the Land Court is in the business of doing itself out of business and that is simply because there are often cheaper, easier and less stressful ways to resolve a dispute over land”.
“Of course the Land Court will continue ruling on disputes if that is where the two parties want their case heard, but mediation is often a far more cost effective tool”, she says.
There are multiple levels of mediation available to parties in dispute, starting with a low level of mediator intervention escalating through to arbitration.
Ms Stilgoe says “It’s all designed to create a lower cost, lower stress vehicle for dispute resolution”.
“It won’t be the answer for everyone in every circumstance, we know that, but it’s important that people know there are alternatives”.
If a Land Court trial cannot be avoided the court will undertake a site visit and where possible hear the first day’s evidence in the court house which is closest to the affected community.
There are also a range of measures landholders can take to avoid the court system altogether outlined on the GasFields Commission website.
The Commission charter is to communicate and engage with all parties in the gas fields to support effective and respectful business to business relationships.
Working closely with the Land Court of Queensland is part of that process and ensures that landholders in particular are aware of exactly what the court process involves.
In the words of Martin Luther King, “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other”.
The GasFields Commission and the Land Court of Queensland are working together to try and fix that.