NSW Local Government

We have extensive experience acting for NSW Local Government councils across New South Wales and our advice to local government is informed by a strong appreciation of the needs, concerns and objectives of councils and the legislative framework in which councils operate.

Our team of experienced and passionate experts deliver timely, accurate and practical advice to enable councils to get on with their core business in the community.

Planning and Environment

Our team provides dedicated planning and environment legal services for NSW Local Government bodies. Our Planning and Environment Lawyers can assist with all aspects of planning and development in NSW, ranging from the processes involved in making, considering and determining development applications, interpreting planning legislation and planning instruments, drafting planning agreements, and representing clients in the Land and Environment Court of NSW in merit and judicial review matters, civil enforcement and prosecution proceedings.

We provide environmental law services in NSW including advice about clearing, threatened species issues, biodiversity certification and conservation. We assist with contaminated land, heritage issues and environment protection licencing, clean-up and prevention notices under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Compulsory Acquisitions

We assist Councils with land acquisition, whether by agreement or compulsory acquisition processes. We can provide advice and guidance on the process, assist in negotiating fair terms and compensation with owners and, in the event that negotiations fail, we can represent you in the Land and Environment Court.

We understand that compulsory acquisition, especially for large projects, can cause unwelcome delay and our goal is to simplify and streamline the acquisition process, minimise project disruption and seek value in the expenditure of tax payer funds.

Our experience extends to the acquisition of Crown land, land subject to Native Title and land subject to an Aboriginal Land Claim.

Government administration

We understand the administrative legal framework within which the Government operates and are highly experienced in advising government on administrative and public law matters. This includes information law related to privacy, secrecy and confidentiality, freedom of information (including GIPA), the operation and interpretation of legislation, and administrative review and decision making.

As a specialist service provider to local government, we regularly provide advice on the application of the Local Government Act 1993 and associated regulations, including the setting, variation and recovery of rates and charges, meeting practice and procedure and disciplinary matters.

Dispute resolution

Disputes can be expensive and disruptive.  Our approach is always to resolve disputes as swiftly and as sensibly as possible using alternative processes including mediation.  That said, there are times when Council needs to take a stand.  Our team provides dedicated planning and environment legal services for NSW Local Government and can represent you in the Land and Environment Court of NSW.  We have a strong appreciation of the objectives, needs and concerns of local government and a detailed understanding of the legislative framework in which they operate.

Probity & procurement

Our experience acting for Councils enables us to understand the special restrictions and requirements that apply to procurement processes under the Local Government Act 1993, the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005, and the Tendering Guidelines for NSW Local Government.  Our procurement experience includes

  • providing advice on tender processes and preparing tender documents, including requests for tenders, deeds, statement of works, performance criteria, selection criteria and evaluation plans;
  • assisting with tender processes, including advising on conflicts of interest, communicating with tenderers, managing incumbent tenderers and in-house bids, issuing addenda and undertaking contract negotiations, including with multiple tenderers; and
  • advising on proper tender procedures, probity, competitive neutrality and preparing probity plans;
  • advising on security and privacy implications of procurement.

We also support the role of the contract manager in the day-to-day management and monitoring of contracts to ensure the required services are delivered in accordance with contract specifications.

Contract advice

In providing contract services we recognise that, at the time of contracting, the parties are usually keen to progress the commercial relationship and tend not to consider the consequences if the relationship falters or there is a dispute.  In drafting any type of contract our Business & Corporate Lawyers are focused on ensuring each clause is clear and concise, setting practical and measurable milestones in the delivery of services. We develop a detailed understanding of project characteristics and risks as an essential pre-condition to determining appropriate contract structures and terms to ensure the Council’s interests are protected.

Our expertise include contract administration, drafting simple and complex contracts (including management agreements, construction and infrastructure works agreements, voluntary planning agreements, recycling and waste collection agreement) and providing advice and training on contract management, including providing strategic advice in relation to any disputes that arise.

BAL Lawyers can also assist with contract review and explain these contracts in plain English so you know exactly what you are signing before you sign it.

Privacy & GIPA

Our approach to privacy and confidentiality issues is to try and ensure that our council clients are appropriately prepared so that the privacy issues are considered before, rather than after, the collection and use of personal information. Accordingly we encourage Councils to seek training and advice on their privacy obligations, and prepare privacy policies, before a breach occurs. As well as providing advice, training and reviewing such policies to ensure consistency with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) we provide advice on statutory interpretation and, on occasion, breaches of that Act.

Our Lawyers are also experienced in requests under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) and can advise councils on all aspects of a GIPA Access Application including advising on whether access to information should be restricted, the process for internal reviews, the structure and content of transparent decision-making and, if necessary, we can appear at any appeals of council decisions in the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal.

Property

We offer a full range of legal services in all aspects of property in New South Wales. We assist Councils in respect of their property related matters, including acquisitions, sales, leasing, licensing, creation and registration of easements, covenants and restrictions, road widening and subdivisions.

We can provide advice on the management of Councils’ operational and community land and its management of Crown Land. We regularly prepare licences and leases for use by Councils, sensitive also to the special restrictions and requirements that apply to dealing with community land

Our team of experienced lawyers are dedicated and diligent, providing considered, effective, and timely advice that supports Councils’ property related transactions. Whether it be residential, commercial, retail or industrial property, your local Council can rely on our team to assist.

Managing Employees

BAL Lawyers have decades of experience providing practical, compliant and cost-effective advice to NSW Local Councils and Joint Organisations. Our dedicated Employment Law & Investigations Practice Group is led by John Wilson and Gabrielle Sullivan, experienced solicitors with over 50 years’ combined experience.  John and Gabrielle are both NSW Law Society Accredited Specialists in Employment and Industrial Law.

We understand the complex regulatory framework applicable to NSW Local Government HR, such as the procedural fairness requirements of the common law, the relevant provisions of the Local Government Act 1993, the Model Code of Conduct and its administrative procedures (as adopted or varied) including the Workplace Investigations Guidelines, the Local Government (State) Award, locally adopted policies, the Industrial Relations Act 1996, and relevant privacy, discrimination, workplace surveillance, record keeping and delegation laws.

Workplace investigations

We offer excellence in the field of employment and industrial law investigations. We are appointed as Code of Conduct Reviewers for many NSW Local Councils and Joint Organisations across the state.  We also act as Council appointed investigators in staff misconduct matters.

Our approach is informed by a thorough legal knowledge of the law that underpins the workplace misconduct investigations process applicable to NSW Local Government. As lawyers, we understand that the lawful and proper purpose of all civil disciplinary processes is a protective purpose, not a punitive one.  We know what ‘procedural fairness’ mean ins practice. We know evidence. As lawyers to government in particular, we understand how to write defensible investigation reports and how to adopt cost control measures.


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