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Cornerstone Legal was established in 2004 and provides dispute resolution, litigation and advice in the areas of Environmental Law, Town Planning Law and Land Compensation Law.  

Typically, our clients include:

  • landowners who are trying to get an approval to build, develop or subdivide their land but have been refused;
  • landowners who have had land taken either for public work, such as Metronet, Bunbury Bypass road, Perth to Darwin National highway or the widening of and associated infrastructure of various highways in Western Australia;
  • Local governments; and
  • Individuals and businesses who have a commercial dispute which needs resolution

Tim Houweling, the Director of Cornerstone Legal, has acted in some of the largest land compensation cases in Western Australia and has a detailed knowledge of this area of Law. He has acted not only for private individuals but also for companies and State Government agencies in respect of the taking of land.

  • There is limited basis upon which a decision can be appealed and there are timeframes within which an appeal must be lodged for review of the decision. It is important not to lose the opportunity for an appeal of a decision.  
  • Upon receiving notification of a refusal of your development application, we recommend that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible to review the refusal and determine whether there is a case for an appeal.
  • Cornerstone Legal has specialist knowledge in Planning Law. We can assess the merits of a case fairly quickly and advise you as to your options. Our experience and knowledge of the Law in this area means that we are familiar with the latest developments and can easily ascertain the background planning framework to assess whether you have a case.

You cannot lodge an appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal for a refusal to zone land. The Local Government has the responsibility for the zoning of land under the Region Scheme.

At your first appointment, we will be able to assess your legal problem very quickly. If we cannot help, we will tell you, and will not charge you for listening to, and understanding your legal problem.

If we can help you, we will need to take some further details from you. We will not be charging you for sending the initial letter of information about the legal services that we will be rendering, and the terms of our engagement.

We will discuss with you the different ways within which your legal problem may be able to be solved by taking the shortest possible and least expensive method.

At the end of your first appointment you will understand:

  • who will be working on your case
  • what the expected legal costs will be which we will include within a letter and a cost agreement;
  • you will understand what the next steps will be that we will assist you with; and how long your matter is likely to take.

Although timeframes can vary greatly, depending on the complexity of the matter, we will look to achieve a resolution to your dispute in the shortest amount of time possible.

  • In the State Administrative Tribunal (“SAT”), most matters are listed quickly for a mediation. Following mediation, the matter is then able to be listed and heard by SAT within a reasonably short period (approximately 3-6 months). After the hearing, the SAT is required to deliver a decision within 3 months.
  • In the Supreme Court, from the initiation of the action to eventually going to hear, can take approximately 12 months. This involves mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. However, where matters are complex and where additional information is required to be obtained, or expert evidence is to be filed, the matter can take longer. There is no guide to precisely how long legal proceedings will take, however, this always needs to be guided by not only the complexity but also the nature of the dispute.

There can be no direct guide on precisely what the costs are in litigation. However, we can assess what the nature of the dispute is and give you some indication based on our experience of what costs are likely to be.  

As a general rule, the SAT is a no costs jurisdiction however, other Ccourts are not. For that reason, we will always advise you about how to run your case in the most efficient manner and encourage you to keep your mind open to resolving your dispute by mediation, negotiation or any other means.

We will advise you in respect of the risks associated with any costs order made against you if you are not successful. Put simply, Law libraries are full of cases in which both sides truly believe they have a strong case. You must understand the cost consequences which could flow if you are ultimately not successful.

Whenever we start a legal dispute, we always endeavour to see whether there is an opportunity to resolve matters early. If so, this can limit your legal costs and ensure that you resolve matters on your terms.

Of course, not all legal matters can be resolved by agreement and for that reason the Court process can be used to have matters heard and determined. In the process, procedural fairness and ensuring that both sides get the opportunity to be heard is of great importance. We will facilitate this process in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.  

Having experience in all Courts, and dealing with matters in all jurisdictions, we can provide you with direct and clear advice based on sound knowledge and experience.

Our office is generally open between 8.30 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday, but on request, we can arrange to meet with you outside of these hours.

We understand that sometimes you have other commitments which means that you may need to see us at other times that are most convenient to you. For that reason, we encourage you to contact our office, speak to us and arrange a meeting.  

The nature of legal disputes requires an in-depth understanding of the issue at hand. It is for this reason that we do not provide advice over the telephone. By coming to our office to discuss your matter, you can be assured that we can better understand your legal problem to know how to best assist you.

Cornerstone Legal has a range of solicitors from very experienced solicitors having worked in law for more than 28 years, all the way down to very junior solicitors and law graduates. Utilising different staff at different levels enables us to provide the most cost-effective solutions for our clients.

Junior solicitors will often do the legal research and background while more senior lawyers will meet with you and prepare and present your matters in Court.

By having a range of solicitors, we can ensure that your legal problem receives the most effective representation by solicitors at the right level. This saves you money and allows us to operate efficiently.

A competent solicitor will be assigned day to day conduct of your file. They will be responsible for progressing your matter, communicating with you, and delegating work as required, to ensure that the appropriate level of skill and attention is afforded to you. The solicitor responsible works under the direction of a director and is required to keep that director informed of the progress of your file.  

The Directors of the firm are always happy to make themselves available to meet with you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. However, day to day contact would generally be with the solicitor who is assigned conduct of your matter and who report to the Directors, who run your matter.

This is the most efficient way to ensure that your legal fees are minimized and that the matter continues to receive daily input by the solicitors who are assisting the Directors and running your case.

We are located in Canning Vale in the Market City Commercial Centre on the corner of Bannister Road and Ranford Road. The easiest way to get to us is to come down the Roe Highway and exit at South Street, turning left at the intersection of Bannister Road. We are upstairs and have ample easy parking around our building.

We are a boutique practice, specializing in town planning and local government matters. We are taking advantage of the flexibility offered by the internet and cloud IT era enabling our solicitors to also manage their workloads and commitments effectively.

Being conveniently located outside of the city for the day to day matters offers accessibility in terms of free parking right outside our door which has been enjoyed by all of our clients. However, as litigation lawyers, we can and do travel to the city for court commitments regularly. In this regard, we can meet you in the CBD.   

Cornerstone Legal, established in 2004, has built a sound reputation within the legal industry for robust representation and advocacy within its areas of specialization. We have set many precedents in the Supreme Court of WA, and we can form effective strategies to navigate complex situations.

No crowds. Having staff at all levels in law, we can effectively utilize the best qualified and experienced staff member for the job at hand, keeping costs low and progressing your matter efficiently. 

Our experience, knowledge and understanding set us apart from other firms. Our solicitors are trusted legal advisors to our valued clients, many of whom have relied on our team for many years.

We are a smaller firm, which means that we can approach our clients with care and commitment rarely seen in the larger firms. We are an effective team able to align ourselves with the needs of our clients and meet often stringent deadlines, to get the job done.  

First and foremost, we care. We take the time to meet with you, visit your property (where appropriate), understand the nature of any legal dispute, and we take your legal problems seriously. We often take on difficult matters, many of which are referred from other law firms. 

Our legal advice is second to none. Our strategy and representation have seen success on many occasions, and we run matters efficiently.  

Our experienced staff handle every matter with the necessary care, attention, and dedication, to progress matters expeditiously and see them to their conclusion.

Cornerstone Legal is experienced in running litigation matters in the Courts. However, sometimes matters benefit from having independent Counsel. This is particularly necessary if the matter is complex.  

Counsel is an independent specialist who is briefed by us, the instructing solicitors. The Barrister chosen will have had considerable experience in arguing similar matters before any Court.  

As preparation for the trial itself often involves large amounts of preliminary works, including offers, counteroffers and documents which may be exchanged, it is important in larger and more complex trials to have separate and independent Counsel acting and assisting you.  

The benefit of independent Counsel is that they remain separate from the day to day ups and downs of the trial preparation process which enables them to focus on the issues in dispute without having to worry about detailed letters, and the like that are often exchanged in the last throws of any litigation.

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