L A Warren Lawyers

Ph: +61 3 7067 6680

Council and Local Government Litigation

Suing Local Council or Local Government for damage to Buildings or Property


BRINGING Claims regarding:

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Property Damage

Bringing Claims against Council for Damage to Homes, Property or Buildings



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Bringing Claims against Local Government for Property Damage Caused by Negligence

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Bringing Claims against Council for



Can I sue the council for negligence

Yes.  If council’s negligence has caused you property damage you can make a claim against them.  In your claim you will need to prove that the damage incurred was caused by council’s negligence. 

How to make a claim against council

Before you begin lodging a legal case against local council, you should contact your local council and lodge a request for compensation form.

You will be asked to provide photographs of the area of property that has sustained damage.  These photos are evidence and are visual proof of location, extent and cause of damage.

If you live close to Melbourne City and the damage was caused by a tree, you may be able to use Urban Forest Visual Map to locate the tree and include the tree’s ID in the claim.

You will also be asked to provide the $ amount of compensation you seek, and a minimum of 2 repair quotes to support your claim.

You will also be asked to provide any insurance claim you’ve made.  If you have received full compensation, the council will not allow you to ‘double dip’.  However, sometimes the insurance company will only pay part of the damage and you can seek further damages from council.

A lawyer can help you complete this form.

What happens if council rejects my claim

If Council rejects the full claim or even part of the request for compensation, you can:

  1. Request an internal review.
  2. Contact the Victorian Ombudsman
  3. Seek Legal advice on whether it is in your best interests to take the matter through the courts system.

How to sue a local council

Once you’ve requested compensation directly from the Council and have been unsuccessful, you can choose to take the claim to court (and sue the Council).

You will need a lawyer to help you with this process.

Suing Local Council is not the same as suing any other body.  The council will often claim: that they have no duty of care, that they had not done any positive act that caused the damage, and due to limited funding the Council has to choose what to fund and can’t be responsible for damages that occur because of their failure to act.  Thus a positive act of negligence often needs to be proven.

It is important to note that there are time limits in which you can bring these claims.  If you leave it too late, your opportunity to sue local Council will be lost.  A lawyer can advise you as the time limits placed on each type of claim.

Going to court is expensive.  There are court fees, legal fees, barrister’s fees, expert fees etc and that money is usually required to be kept in trust in advance of the case hearing.

The process:

Firstly, you need to lodge a statement of claim in the appropriate court for your claim.

Secondly, you need to prove your case and this may involve hiring experts that will argue the damage incurred was due to Council negligence.

Thirdly, you may need to hire a barrister to argue on your behalf in court.

There are many twists and turns that happen in legal cases, so the process can be quite lengthy.  Most cases take at least 2 years (and many court appearances) before the case is finalized.

On a positive note, if you are successful, the sum of your claim against council will usually include some legal costs.  This means you may recover a certain percentage of the costs you incurred bringing the matter to court.




Government and Local Council Articles