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I am the Council, Coo Coo Geju

Monday, May 21, 2018

I am the Council, Coo Coo Geju

Council escapes liability for incorrect planning certificate .

Central Highlands Regional Council V Geju Pty Ltd 


The Queensland Court of Appeal recently held that a Council which issued an incorrect town planning certificate owed no duty of care to prospective purchasers of land, despite the purchasers having relied upon the inaccurate certificate.



The Council had provided the vendors with a certificate containing errors regarding zoning. The prospective purchasers, Geju, relied on this information when purchasing the land. Geju discovered the mistakes while attempting to on-sell the land and the contract was terminated. Geju sought damages from the Council for negligence.



The Court held that the Council did not owe a duty of care. To establish a duty of care, the element of vulnerability is required – the purchaser must have been unable to protect itself from the Council’s lack of reasonable care. The Court decided that Geju could have used other available methods to establish the nature of the land they were purchasing, but chose not to (ie Geju chose to rely solely upon Council’s information), and therefore Geju wasn’t able to recover any of their losses from the Council.



Prospective purchasers should be aware that where a council issues an inaccurate town planning certificate, the purchasers will not be entitled to damages unless the Council was aware the certificate would be relied upon, and the purchaser had no other means to protect itself from the inaccurate information. The decision might have been different if Geju had expressly stated that the certificate will be used for the purpose of entering into a sale of land contract. Additionally, purchasers should ensure their contracts contain a warranty that protects them in the case of inaccurate property information.






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