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Planning and Environment Law Firm Perth. 

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Glen McLeod, ‘Environment and planning issues in Western Australia pre- and post- the 2017 state election’ (2017) 32(4) Australian Environment Review 4, 112.

Connor Fisher

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Glen McLeod, Principal at Glen McLeod Legal, recently contributed an article to the Australian Environment Review. Using the recent Western Australian state election as a reference point the article titled, ‘Environment and planning issues in Western Australia pre- and post- the 2017 state election’, examines three Western Australian Court decisions and their implications. A summary of the article follows.

Save Beeliar Wetlands (Inc) v Jacob [2015] WASC 482 turned on whether, under the proper construction of Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act (1986) (EP Act), the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) had failed to consider a mandatory relevant consideration. The decision at first instance was reversed by the Supreme Court of Appeal which determined there had been no failure on the EPA’s part (Jacob v Save Beeliar Wetlands (Inc) (2016) 50 WAR 313). The observation made was that competing statutory interpretations can arise when complex legislation is the subject of a contemporary, contextual and purposive examination. Though the case did have the practical effect of delaying the project for it to be terminated by the new government.

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The decision for Erujin Pty Ltd v Jacob [2017] WASC 35 was handed down one month before the state election and consisted of a judicial review of the environmental appeals process, focusing primarily on the issue of procedural fairness. Currently, appeals against environmental decisions are reviewed under the EP Act’s ministerial appeals system. The Court found that the system as it applied in this case did not create a breach of procedural fairness. Though a criticism levied at the ministerial appeals system is that it appears to be ‘deliberately designed to minimise the potential for litigation’. 

Wattleup Road Development Co Pty Ltd v State Administrative Tribunal (No 2) [2016] WASC 279 concerned a challenge against the recommendations made by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) that a subdivision application within close proximity of the Kwinana Industrial Area and within the Kwinana Buffer Area be refused. The appellant argued that the SAT had taken into account irrelevant considerations. In his judgement, Chaney J concluded that the challenge be dismissed citing health, sustainability and precautionary reasons.

The existing buffer is under pressure from developers and local government due to a shortfall in legislative protection. The former WA Government promised legislative protections for the Kwinana Buffer Area, though it is not clear whether the new government will follow through with these plans.   

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These cases highlight some unusual features of the Western Australian appeals system, particularly the strong involvement of the executive arm of government in environment and planning decision making. The cases discussed in this article will be added to the body of precedent cited in future planning and environmental matters.

VALUE BASED BILLING: AN EFFECTIVE MODEL FOR OUTCOMES BASED LEGAL SERVICES

Connor Fisher

Trends in the legal market identified by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) 2017 report indicate that the most pertinent considerations for a client when engaging a firm are flexible billing methods, knowledge specialisation and individual lawyers, followed by past experience, tailored advice and personal relationships. Law firms that recognise and tailor their services to those needs will not only enjoy a healthy client base but also maintain committed and satisfied staff.

The ACC report also noted that, because of prevailing economic conditions, clients are carefully considering their legal budgets to ensure they are receiving real value for legal services. The overriding sentiment is that client resources are most efficiently and effectively spent by employing a lawyer that has the specialist knowledge to achieve desired outcomes at a fair price. 

The renewed focus on client value has led to a rise in the use of value based billing, otherwise known as fixed fee billing. This value based approach replaces the ‘cost-plus’ method of charging hourly rates and has many flow on benefits for both the client and the law firm.

Our experience has shown that value based billing requires law firms to have a greater understanding of the true cost of providing legal services. A better understanding of these costs enables lawyers to offer the client a transparent and upfront price that is agreed in advance, adequately budgeted for and linked to the performance and completion of specific outcomes. These are all essential elements for building a collaborative and long-lasting client-lawyer relationship.

Agreeing the price before work is commenced allows the law firm to holistically consider and allocate all internal resources required to achieve the stated outcome. This approach provides greater certainty to the client and reassurance that costs will not unexpectedly blow out. Lawyers also benefit from this approach as it provides greater clarity and flexibility in planning and producing the work required without the pressures of billing as many hours as possible. Removing the pressures of time based billing also increases workplace satisfaction by allowing lawyers to focus on achieving the outcome as agreed with the client.

Glen McLeod Legal is a boutique Town Planning and Environment law firm that applies the principles of value based billing. We can be contacted by telephone on (08) 6460 5179 or by email at glen@glenmcleodlegal.com.au.

2017 Who's Who Legal - Environment

Glen

Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association Section of International Law

 

We are delighted to announce that Glen McLeod has been selected by research with clients and peers as being one of the world’s leading Environment lawyers. He is one of a select few Australian lawyers to be recognised.

2017 Doyle’s Guide – Planning and Environmental Law

Angus McLeod

We are pleased to announce that Principal Glen McLeod has been recognised in the 2017 Doyle’s Guide as a pre-eminent legal practitioner in the areas of town planning and environmental law.

Glen McLeod has been practising town planning and environmental law for 40 years and in 2016 was the Law Society of WA’s Lawyer of the year.

At Glen McLeod Legal we pride ourselves on achieving sound outcomes and maintaining the highest commitment to lasting client relationships.

Our team provides authoritative and strategic advice as well as conducts significant litigation relating to development and subdivision approvals or compliance with development conditions, land compensation and valuation law claims, developer contributions for infrastructure, native vegetation clearing permits or prosecutions and contaminated sites or waste obligations.

We would be delighted to discuss with you or your clients any town planning or environmental law challenges that may be effecting your business.