Wednesday 8 February 2017

Native Title Agreements: All registered native title claimants must sign, says Full Federal Court

The McGlade decision is of national significance and goes to which particular individuals must sign certain agreements under the Native Title Act. The case relates to the $1.3 billion Noongar settlement over the greater Perth area and WA's south west. The decision means that four of the six agreements in the settlement will not be indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) because of the way they were signed and will not have the full force and effect that the signatories expected them to have under the Native Title Act.

While the case underlines the importance of strictly following the Act's requirements on agreement making, the Commonwealth is presently seeking to legislate to address situations where agreements may now be invalid following the Full Court's decision. A Bill for this purpose passed the lower house on 16 February.

The Bill's primary objectives include ensuring that ILUAs which do not contain the signatures of all members of the registered native title claimants can still be registered and enforceable. The Bill is also intended to apply retrospectively. Importantly though, it is yet to take effect as law. The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee is expected to report on the Bill by 17 March 2017.

VGSO will be working closely with our clients who need assistance in making ILUAs to determine the impacts of these developments. The VGSO is Government's exclusive provider of legal services on native title.

We will bring you further updates as they come to hand.

James Stephens
Principal Solicitor

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