The ERD Court has criminal enforcement powers by virtue of the offence provisions in the Development Act 1993 (SA). All offences are dealt with as summary offences and prosecutions must be commenced within three years of the date of the offence, unless the Attorney-General's authorisation has been obtained in which case it is up to ten years.
Fines which can be imposed by the court are significant. For example, a person who is convicted of undertaking development without appropriate authorisation [Development Act 1993 (SA) s 44], may be fined up to $120 000. An additional penalty can also be imposed up to the cost of the development that has been undertaken in contravention of that section. Furthermore, a default penalty of up to $500 per day may be imposed and applies for every day on which the offence continues after the date of conviction for the original offence. In extreme cases, persons who fail to comply with court orders to remove illegal development can be convicted of contempt of court. This situation occurred in 1999 when a householder was jailed for a short period over a failure to demolish illegal home extensions.
In most cases of undertaking development without approval, a relevant authority will usually allow a person an opportunity to rectify the situation by lodging a retrospective development approval.
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