Native Title Compensation Claims



Native Title Compensation Claims

Some 35% of Australia is covered by native title determinations, with another 200 applications awaiting finalization. Some 50% of Australia will potentially be covered by a native title determination.

Native title holders recognized by the Federal Court are entitled to make a compensation claim for past loss of native title over their lands. This involves another application in the Federal Court and requires in depth investigation before commencement.

Members should consider their rights carefully and receive detailed legal advice to ensure they make an informed decision. Important considerations include the funding of any claim, expert and elder evidence about cultural loss impacts and the burden this places on them in a litigation setting and then how any award or settlement will be managed by and for the mob.

Only 1 claim can be made over the land claimed in the application, so it is vital to ensure it is done properly.

Compensation is awarded for compensable acts. These are essentially grants over land that impair or extinguish native title. Such acts can include grants of freehold, leasehold, permits and declarations of national parks.

The compensation is assessed as at the date of the act and is based on the freehold value of land impacted by the act, plus interest and special value of cultural loss. The full value of the land will only be available if full native title existed before the compensable act, and all native title was extinguished by the act. Part compensation is assessed if there was a lesser impact on native title by the compensable act.

Acts done before 31 October 1975 are not claimable unless they were done by the Commonwealth, which is relatively rare.

Future acts affecting native title are not part of this claim process and are covered under a different process.

Expert legal advice is essential.

Salerno Law now have a specialist team practicing in Native Title Compensation claims. Contact Peter Matus for more information about your potential Native Title Compensation Claim.

Peter Matus | Special Counsel T: +61 (7) 5575 8011 | E: p.matus@salernolaw.com.au