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The Court has jurisdiction, in Class 2, to resolve applications under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (the Trees Act).
The Court has published a formal document that sets out the process and requirements for applications under the Trees Act. This is called the Practice Note – Class 2 Tree Applications (PDF , 245.3 KB). The Practice Note explains the steps that need to be undertaken before the preliminary hearing, at the preliminary hearing, before and at the final hearing, and the evidence that might be given at the final hearing.
The Court has also produced informal notes on the Trees Act which provide further information on preparing for and conducting the preliminary and the final hearings: see Trees disputes — understanding the law (DOC , 1004.0 KB).
The process for dealing with disputes about trees and hedges in the NSW Land and Environment Court
Neighbours who disagree about how to deal with a tree that has become dangerous or damaging on one of their adjoining properties, or a hedge on one of their adjoining properties that is obstructing sunlight, may apply to the NSW Land and Environment Court for orders. These type of applications to the Court are allowed by the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (the Trees Act).
The Trees Act sets out a process to enable people to deal with disputes like these in a simple, inexpensive and accessible way. It also sets out:
Tree disputes can be brought to the Court when:
Hedge disputes can be brought to the Court when:
The Trees Act specifies who can apply to the Court for orders in relation to a tree and a hedge on adjoining land. For a tree dispute or a hedge dispute, the person making the application must be an owner or occupier of land that adjoins the land on which the tree or hedge is situated (see s 3, s 7 and s 14 B of the Trees Act).
There is no statutory time limit in the Trees Act within which applications under the Trees Act need to be made.
However, an application must be made at the right time to show the Court that the tree or hedge has become dangerous or is damaging or is an obstruction.
For example, trees must grow to the specified height of 2.5m in order to be a hedge under the Trees Act and those trees must cause a severe obstruction to sunlight to a window of or views from a dwelling on the applicant’s land.
An applicant may need to wait until such time that these criteria are met, in order for the application to be proper. There is a general time limit for making claims for compensation for damage to property under the Limitations Act 1969. This is six years from the date the cause of action first accrues to the applicant.
For links to useful Court information and documents, legislation and case studies relating to development appeals, see: Helpful materials.
22 May 2023
We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work and we pay respect to the Elders, past, present and future.