Money: 'The largest ever claim': WestConnex might be opening, but the legal fights rage - PressFrom - Australia
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Money'The largest ever claim': WestConnex might be opening, but the legal fights rage

05:00  18 july  2019
05:00  18 july  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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Built mostly in underground tunnels, WestConnex is part of an integrated transport plan to keep Sydney moving. The final and most critical component of WestConnex , the M4-M5 Link features twin tunnels connecting the New M4 at Haberfield to the New M5 at St Peters, as well as an underground bypass

Several hundred people attended a Rage Against WestConnex rally in King George Park, Rozelle, on April 14. The rally was organised by Rozelle Against "Rozelle residents are now fighting this bizarre underground spaghetti junction, which is against the interests of us all. The NSW government has a

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The spaghetti interchange the state government is building for the WestConnex motorway at St Peters is set to open next year – but it is touch and go whether it will be finished before litigation over its construction is concluded.

For the past five years, the former owners and operators of the tip on which the interchange is being erected have been waging a series of labyrinthine legal battles with the government.

Sydney's WestConnex motorway to open this weekend

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We are building a growing city. Built mostly in underground tunnels, WestConnex is part of an integrated transport plan to keep Sydney moving.

'The largest ever claim': WestConnex might be opening, but the legal fights rage© AAP NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian inspects the WestConnex M5 interchange in St Peters.

And though a decision is due in one of those battles on Thursday when the Land and Environment Court deliver judgment in a $600 million compensation claim, there are almost certain to be further complications to come.

“It’s been quite a litigation saga,” said Nick Brunton from Norton Rose Fulbright, who has represented Roads and Maritime Services in the matter.

'The largest ever claim': WestConnex might be opening, but the legal fights rage© Anna Kucera Construction of WestConnex at the back of Sydney Park in St Peters.

I’ve been working in this area for over 25 years and so far as I’m aware this is the largest ever claim for compensation for the acquisition of land for public purposes."

The legal fights have involved companies associated with Ian Malouf’s Dial A Dump empire, which the former garbage-man sold this year for $578 million.

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The decision on Thursday relates to a company owned by Mr Malouf, Alexandria Landfill Pty Ltd, which purchased a 15.7-hectare site at St Peters – just south of Sydney Park – for $21 million in 2001 from the City of Sydney Council.

'The largest ever claim': WestConnex might be opening, but the legal fights rage© NSW Government A model of the St Peters interchange.

The first indication that governments had designs on the site was in November 2014, when former prime minister and Tony Abbott and ex-premier Mike Baird announced they would use it to build an interchange for the M5 East motorway section of WestConnex.

A month later, the state government compulsorily acquired the land from Mr Malouf’s company. That company, meanwhile, disputed the valuer general's estimate of the compensation bill.

In March 2015, three companies associated with Mr Malouf lodged a claim for $343 million.

One was Alexandria Landfill Pty Ltd, the registered owner of the land; another was Boiling Pty Ltd, a company owned and controlled by Mr Malouf’s wife Larissa, which had a lease over the site.

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The third was Dial A Dump Industries, which operated the landfill.

Because it did not have an interest in the land, Dial A Dump was not offered compensation. But it argued that it should also receive a pay-out.

This argument was dismissed by the Land and Environment Court in 2016 and by the Court of Appeal in April 2017.

In the meantime, the substantive Alexandria Landfill litigation was on hold.

But then there were other claims.

Another company owned by Mr Malouf, Carlewie Pty Ltd, owned a site next door that was also acquired for WestConnex in early 2015.

Carlewie also argued that the valuer general's offer of $28 million was insufficient.

But when compensation was determined in the Land and Environment Court, Judge Terry Sheahan and Acting Commissioner John Maston AC, held that Carlewie should receive $23 million.

Mr Malouf’s empire made two responses: it appealed and it argued that Justice Sheahan and Mr Maston – who were also due to hear the Alexandria Landfill litigation – should not decide the Alexandria Landfill matter, because of an apprehension of bias.

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The legal validity of these tactics has been questioned by protesters. Marrickville Council received legal advice that work at the proposed St Peters Despite these ongoing protests against WestConnex , its clear unpopularity in the community, the long list of experts opposed and total absence of experts in

Justice Sheahan rejected this argument.

But Carlewie's appeal was successful, with the Court of Appeal holding that the way in which the decision was worded suggested an error of law. That Carlewie matter will return to court next year.

For their site, Alexandria Landfill and Boiling have argued that they should receive almost $600 million in compensation – significantly more than the $21 million Alexandria Landfill paid for it in 2001, and well above the $73 million offered by the government.

If the court does not decide in their favour on Thursday, recent history suggests there could be more rounds to come.

“Working out what compensation is payable for a large landfill site is very complex,” said Dr Brunton. “This case has involved dozens of experts, over 100 reports and thousands of documents.”

And it involves a road that is set to open next year.

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'The largest ever claim': WestConnex might be opening, but the legal fights rage

Former Sydney tip owners awarded $50 million compo for WestConnex site.
The NSW government has been ordered to pay more than $50 million compensation to the former owners of a tip site that it acquired for WestConnex. A Sydney court has ordered the NSW government to pay more than $50 million compensation to the former owners of a tip site that it acquired to build the WestConnex spaghetti junction at St Peters. How To Get A Home Loan With 5% Deposit Find out more on Finder Ad Finder.com.au Alexandria Landfill Pty Ltd launched legal action against the government in the NSW Land and Environment Court, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for the site in the city's inner west.

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