Council has spent $4.36m on legal costs on waste management cases in three years

A confidential CHCC document by  Mick Raby, Director Sustainable Infrastructure, dated Thursday 26 May 2021 and addressed to Councilors and Council’s Senior Executive team estimated the total legal costs over three years  for the HandyBin and Biomass cases alone as at 25 May 2021 was $4,369,799.

By The Editor

That figure would appear to be the $4.3m Cr Sally Townley let slip at a council meeting about a month ago.

Below is a picture of the 25 May Confidential council memo from Mick Raby.

However that figure only applies to cases Council was involved in with HandyBin and Biomass.  Other cases council were involved in over the past three years are not included in that figure.

This revelation comes as concern has mounted among Councilors and others over the steady increase in legal costs over recent years.

The following figures, sourced from publicly available council documents, and provided by internal Council staff show the publicly announced figures for council’s legal expenses each year from July 1 2010 until July 1 2020.  The graph below then tracks those figures over the same period.

Figure 1 – CHCC Legal Expenses 2009/10-2019/20

However to be fair the figures above don’t include what Council got back about 3.5M in the Lehman Brothers class action a few years ago.

By the same token they might also not include the legal cost figures for waste management. We know they do not include any pertaining to 2020/21 and, again, especially as they relate to the two waste management cases referred to above.

Legal ‘sleuth,’ Beau Dugan, who has done similar work for CCO before, has gone into the same figures used to generate the data above while also looking at other Council publications referenced at the bottom of the chart below to estimate what costs might be if the waste cases, and others such as Two Tails are  included for the last financial year.

The waste figures have been averaged out and included over the past three years to arrive at the approximation below but they may be included in the last two years of Figure 1 above although it was hard to establish that.

Figure 2 – CHCC Legal Expenses 2009/10-2020/21 (Last year estimate)

Now, it has to be stressed that the findings in Figure 2 are estimates especially the last three years and 2020/21 particularly.

But they are based on published Council accounts, published data by council required under the Local Government Act, the memo from Mr Raby above and interviews with other litigants and their representatives and they both roughly concur until 2018/19 when the latter figure presumes waste legal case figures might not be included in Figure 1.

Nevertheless what they would show, if a trend line were to be drawn across both Figures 1 and 2, is that over an eleven year period, under the current CHCC management, there has been a steady upward climb in legal costs.

Also there is much more to cover pertaining to the 25 May Confidential memo by Mr Raby. We will look at that in coming weeks.


Special thanks to Beau Dugan for his work on Figure 2 above.

2 thoughts on “Council has spent $4.36m on legal costs on waste management cases in three years

  1. Director of Sustainability Raby, This is an abysmal indication of failure in legal proceedings on behalf of our city. What is more, it is showing an alarming acceleration on your watch!

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