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46 Money St
Perth, WA, 6000

+61 8 6460 5179

Planning and Environment Law Firm Perth. 




In the recently published judgment of Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25 the High Court of Australia held that Google may be liable for publishing potentially defamatory material.

Google had tried to obtain summary judgment on the basis that the case against it had no reasonable prospect of success. Google argued that their search engine did not publish the material and that the material was not defamatory of Mr Trkulja (Plaintiff). The trial judge rejected that application.

The trial judge’s decision was appealed to the Victorian Court of Appeal (VCA), which found in favour of Google. The VCA found it unnecessary to decide whether Google was the publisher of the material and found that the Plaintiff had no real prospect of successfully proving defamation.


On appeal by the Plaintiff, the High Court of Australia (HCA) upheld the trial judge's ruling in favour of the Plaintiff, in a strong judgement that was highly critical of the Court of Appeal's approach and decision.

Paragraph 31 of the judgement, summarises the test for defamation. The published material associated the Plaintiff with criminal elements. The material came up on Google searches. The HCA concluded that at least some of the material published by Google had the capacity to be defamatory. The Plaintiff therefore had a reasonable prospect of success. The case may go back to the trial judge for the hearing to be conducted in full, unless of course Google decides, in view of the HCA’s ruling, that it should try to settle now, which would have to be an option.

The case clarifies the law relating to publication of defamatory material on the world wide web and should make it easier to stop defamatory material from being published through that medium. This may be particularly relevant to those who may have been seen as easy targets for web abuse. As well as suing perpetrators, they can sue Google, seek damages and endeavour to stop publication by an injunction.

Planning Reform Symposium Round Up


Glen McLeod Legal was proud to co-organise with Murdoch University School of Law a symposium on the independent review of the WA planning system. The review, which was commissioned by the Minister for Planning, proposes reforms to make the WA planning system more efficient, open and understandable.

The lead independent reviewer, Evan Jones presented on five key reform areas identified in the Green Paper, being strategic leadership, legibility, transparency, efficiency and delivering smart growth. The following contains a brief summary of each proposed reform.

Strategically led: the key reform will be to put strategy at the centre of the WA planning system. This will involve amending the Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA) (PD Act) to define ‘strategic planning’ and ‘sustainable development’, as well as making strategic planning for sustainable development the purpose of planning in WA. The core concept of ‘sustainability’ is proposed to be defined in a State Planning Policy (SPP), with steps on how to balance economic, social and environmental factors for land use planning.

Legible: the reforms propose to:

(a)  consolidate all SPPs together into a single concise State Planning Framework spanning less than 200 pages;

(b) reorganise SPPs into common elements that are used directly for regional plans and local planning schemes (LPS);

(c) create a Comprehensive Local Planning Scheme for each local government, which contains all local planning strategies, legal provisions, maps and local planning policies. This will be published in a single, easy-to-navigate, standardised format; and

(d) create a set of standardised zones, land uses and land use permissibility to apply in Perth and major regional centres.

Transparent: the reforms propose to establish a Community Engagement Charter for more active community participation and to improve the Development Assessment Panel (DAP) system to increase transparency and community trust in the decision-making process. This includes making information about DAP meetings available online, providing reasons for all DAP decisions, appointing a state based pool of expert DAP members for complex matters and appointing a Chief Presiding Member to oversee the quality and consistency of DAP decisions.

Efficiency: the Green Paper recommends extending delegations from the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH)  and local government. The long term idea is that:

(a) the WAPC will only be responsible for matters of state and regional strategic planning significance;

(b) the DPLH will be responsible for the operation of the state planning system and provide leadership and guidance to local government; and

(c) local government will be responsible for local policies, development and small infill subdivision in accordance with a local structure plan.

Other goals for reform include fast-tracking certain development approvals, reducing the timeframe in which additional information can be sought and providing upfront agreements on the scope and content of Local Structure Plans (LSP).

Connected and Smart Growth: the planning system needs to focus on planning and delivering key urban infill locations of activity centres, urban corridors and station precincts. This will require the development of a Connected Smart Growth SPP and clearly defining the different roles to be played by the State Government.

The symposium concluded with an engaging panel discussion between Evan Jones, Paul Kotsoglo (Managing Director, Planning Solutions), Len Kosova (CEO, City of Vincent) and Jane Bennett (Director, CLE Town Planning + Design).

There was also a diverse range of input from the audience consisting of architects, environmental consultants, local government representatives and legal professionals. Questions centred around the new dynamic between state and local government in delivering the proposed reforms, the delivery of the reforms as ‘Day 1’ changes or a gradual roll out, and whether the office of an Independent Planning Reviewer should be established.

We would like to thank the panel members and audience for making the symposium a successful event.  Special thanks also to Professor Jürgen Bröhmer, Dean of Murdoch Law School, for generously providing the facilities at Murdoch University.

The Green Paper is available for download on the website of the DPLH here.

Welcome Back to Sam Lander


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Glen McLeod Legal is very pleased to welcome back an Associate Sam Lander, after an absence of a year, in which he gained further experience in complex projects and corporate transactions.

Sam says that he is pleased to be back with the firm, where he started work in 2014.  He is looking forward to helping clients achieve outcomes in the areas of land compensation, planning and environmental applications and appeals, clearing prosecutions and remediation of contaminated sites.

Sam is contactable at or on 08 6460 5179.