Spencer v. Commonwealth (High Court of Australia, 2010); (Federal Court 2015)
Side A: Peter Spencer (Individual)
Side B: Commonwealth of Australia (Government)
Appeal of dismissal of challenge to statute restricting clearing of native vegetation on private property
The appellant challenged two state laws that prohibited him from clearing native vegetation on his property, arguing that the prohibition amounted to an unjust acquisition of his property interests, including his interests in carbon sequestration. The Federal Court of Australia summarily dismissed the appeal, finding that the appellant had no reasonable prospect of success because the laws did not effect or authorize the acquisition of the appellant's property. On appeal, the Full Court upheld the dismissal. The appellant appealed again to the High Court of Australia, which found that the proceeding should not have been dismissed because the possibility remained that the laws are invalid due to the informal arrangement between the State and the Commonwealth. The Federal Court rejected Spencer's claim in 2015, after holding a full trial and concluding that there was no "informal agreement" between New South Wales and the Commonwealth and that the laws prohibiting Spencer from clearing native vegetation did not thereby effect an "acquisition" of his property. Spencer has appealed.