The case of Council of the City of Gold Coast v Sedgman Consulting Pty Ltd [2017] QPEC 18 concerned an appeal by the Gold Coast City Council against a decision of the Building and Development Committee to set aside a decision of the Council to issue a compliance permit for plumbing and drainage work subject to conditions.

The Applicant for the compliance permit appealed the Council's decision to the Building and Development Committee on the grounds firstly that the Council had failed to issue an information notice as required; and secondly against condition 1 of the compliance permit.

The Building and Development Committee set aside the decision of the Council to issue a compliance permit on the basis that the information notice had not been given.

The Planning and Environment Court found that by focussing on the procedural requirements the Building and Development Committee did not decide all of the matters the subject of the appeal and fell into error of law for exceedance of jurisdiction.

The Court noted that the Council's decision letter could not be regarded as an information notice

Under the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, the Council was required to give an information notice about the decision where it refuses to give a compliance permit or gives a compliance permit on conditions.

The Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 relevantly defines an information notice as a notice stating the following:
  • the decision;
  • the reasons for the decision;
  • that the person to whom the notice is given may appeal against the decision within 20 business days;
  • how the person may appeal against the decision.
The Court found that the Council's letter dated 7 April 2016 notifying the Applicant of its decision to give a compliance permit on conditions could not properly be regarded as an information notice for the purposes of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002 as it did not contain the reasons for the decision, did not give notice of the right of appeal to the Building and Development Committee within 20 business days and did not advise how to appeal.

However, as there was no application to declare the information notice invalid, the Court noted the relevance of this finding was only in relation to the appropriate orders to be made in remitting the matter back to the Building and Development Committee.

Building and Development Committee failed to determine the reasonable and relevant plumbing requirements

Despite the Council's failure to give an information notice, the Court found that the Building and Development Committee incorrectly concerned itself with the question of whether the compliance permit was valid rather than the reasonable and relevant plumbing requirements.

The Court found that in doing so the Committee "did not decide all of the matters that were the subject of the appeal" and made an error or mistake of law. 

The Court was satisfied that the matter was within the jurisdiction of the Building and Development Committee and that the appropriate order was to remit the matter to the Committee for a decision to be made according to the law.

The Court noted the difficulty for the Applicant in making an informed decision to initiate the appeal and about the grounds of appeal in circumstances where the reasons from the Council had not been given. Consequently, the Court ordered that the Council give the Applicant a written statement of reasons for its decision to give a compliance permit on conditions.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2019.

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