Was a farmer entitled to a perpetual lease over land he sold to a mining company? Which case won?
Farmer sells land to mining company to build haul road
In March 2007, a farmer sold his rural property near Gunnedah in NSW to a mining company. The mining company used the land to build a haul road for its mining operations. The same lawyer acted for both the mining company and the farmer on the property sale.
A clause in the contract for sale allowed the farmer to remain in his home on the land for no more than one year from 6 March 2007.
Farmer fails to vacate land one year after sale
When the year was up, the farmer failed to vacate the property. The mining company did not attempt to remove him for a further year.
In April 2010, the mining company served a notice on the farmer to vacate the property by 31 May 2010. The farmer refused, saying that the mining company had agreed that he could live on the property indefinitely.
In September 2010, the mining company again served notice on the farmer and the farmer again refused to vacate the premises.
Mining company takes legal action to remove farmer from land
After this refusal, the mining company commenced proceedings in the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (now known as the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal or NCAT) to remove the farmer from the land.
The initial application failed on jurisdictional grounds and the matter came before the Supreme Court of NSW, where the farmer represented himself.
It was up to the court to decide whether the farmer had been granted a perpetual lease by the mining company, or whether he should be ordered to vacate the property.