04.02.2019 at 01:36
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Government Loses Big Over Compulsory Acquisition

$4 million spent in legal costs for court defense. But that is not even close to the whole story.

Over the last 2 years, NSW Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) sought to acquire a 5,274 sqm property belonging to ASX-listed property developer Desane.

RMS claimed the property, at 68-72 Lilyfield Road, was needed for the Sydney inner west WestConnex Motorway Project.

In what has been described as a "David vs Goliath" journey through the court system, Desane appealed their case resisting the acquisition all the way up to the NSW Supreme Court.

Desane's small team of lawyers had to contend with 30 to 40 government lawyers when they went to court.

The court ruled in favor of Desane, in part on the basis that RMS could not show that it had any firm plans for the property.

The reason they gave for the acquisition was only that it was going to be used for some sort of car park.

Also, it was claimed the project plan was not completed in time to legally acquire the property.

However, the state appealed one more time to the Court of Appeal, and Desane finally lost their case.

When the case was over, we learned that the NSW government had spent $2.1 million in court on the case. However, a deeper inquiry found that RMS had spent an additional $1.8 million on the government's defense.

RMS has spent at least $8.5 million defending itself against 6 legal actions by property owners over acquisitions related to WestConnex.

Land owners have also claimed that there are wide inconsistencies in compensation for similar properties.

And well they should. Desane was initially offered $18.4 million for the property the government wanted to acquire.

But after losing at the Court of Appeal, Desane managed to up that figure to $78 million.

And no matter how you look at it, that looks like a pretty big loss for government, over and above the $4 million legal costs.

Photo: supplied by Desane

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