The High Court has recently heard appeals by the Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth in relation to the first ever litigated native title compensation decision of the Full Federal Court (Northern Territory of Australia v Griffiths [2017] FCAFC 106). The appeals also mark the High Court’s first ever sitting in the Northern Territory.

We await the High Court’s decision on the appeals which follow the decisions of a single judge of the Federal Court and the Full Federal Court in relation to the amount of compensation payable to the Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples for the extinguishment of native title rights in Timber Creek.

The primary judge originally awarded the Ngaliwurru and Nungali peoples $3.3m in August 2016. The Full Federal Court on 20 July 2017 reduced the award to $2.8 million due to errors in the primary judge’s assessment of economic loss. See our previous article on the Full Federal Court’s decision.

As none of the underlying tenure in the Timber Creek compensation decisions is mining or petroleum tenure, the principles applicable to compensation in the context of mining or petroleum tenure are yet to be judicially considered. However, obviously some parallels will be drawn as to potential liability in respect of extinguishment by mining or petroleum tenure and so we keenly await the High Court’s ruling.