Legal Insights

Lovers’ Walk remains open to lovers everywhere

By Guy O'Connor, Jonathon Meehan

• 11 October 2017 • 1 min read

The Victorian Court of Appeal has held that a bluestone laneway in South Yarra is a public highway at common law

You may recall the 2016 case of Anderson v Stonnington City Council, where the Supreme Court of Victoria held that a bluestone laneway in South Yarra, Lovers' Walk, was a public highway at common law, and a ‘road’ for the purposes of the Road Management Act 2004 and Local Government Act 1989.

This decision of the trial judge was seen by many as a long-overdue affirmation of the rights of the public in roads, and one which shed much needed light on the myriad of legislative provisions that govern roads in Victoria. The Andersons, however, disagreed, and were quick to appeal the decision to the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal.

Following a hearing where Maddocks acted on behalf of Stonnington, on 1 September 2017 the Court of Appeal handed down a strong judgment in support of Stonnington’s position. The decision holds many promising statements for councils seeking to protect the public assets that they administer, and is essential reading for any officer who deals with these issues on a day-to-day basis.

How does your council manage laneways open to public use on private land? Have all of your council’s roads been properly included on the Register of Public Roads?

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