Written submissions to the VLRC inquiry into neighbourhood tree disputes closed on 28 February 2018. Practitioners in this area will await the outcome of the inquiry with bated breath.
In the interim, the consultation paper prepared by the Commission contains an impressive recap of the present law, although it will be unsatisfying for the average punter looking for a short summary (the paper is 156 pages).
In the Commission’s own words:
3.227 In Victoria, neighbours involved in a tree dispute must rely on disparate information sources published by government and community organisations to navigate the fragmented resolution process for themselves.
3.228 Neighbours unwilling or unable to reach agreement informally have little structure or support to assist them, and conflicts may escalate quickly.
3.229 If formal mediation is sought, neighbours will be provided with more information, but their rights and responsibilities may still not be clear, as the current law in Victoria, based on the common law, is difficult to understand and not clearly articulated in a single, accessible location or document. Further, agreements made in DSCV-led mediation are not necessarily binding, and may not finally resolve a dispute.
3.230 Only when a common law action is brought in the courts are neighbours then subject to binding orders. The outcomes may still not be what either party had expected or hoped for, and the remedies are limited.
The full list of submissions made to the Commission can viewed here.