Native Title, Heritage + Communities

Gilbert + Tobin’s native title team has a reputation as a cross-practice, solutions orientated group, and is unique in acting for all sectors including proponents, native title holders and Government.

Our Approach

Our breadth of expertise is rare, with very few others in the position of trusted adviser to both parties in the proponent sphere and in the native title holder or aspirant sphere.

Our experience covers all industry sectors. We have advised:

  • Native title holders and claimants.
  • Trustees of native title trusts.
  • Government.
  • Mining proponents.
  • Forestry proponents.
  • Pastoral and rangelands proponents.
  • Land developers.
  • Port and infrastructure developers.

Our practice traverses the breadth of native title work and includes advice on:

  • Future acts (including dispute resolution options).
  • Drafting Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) and other native title agreements.
  • Enforcement of native title rights.
  • Internal governance of native title trusts and other indigenous organisations.
  • Liability under native title agreements in complex situations including where native title counterparties are held effectively not to exist as a coherent and identifiable group.
  • Aboriginal heritage issues and statutory entitlements related to native title.

Chalk & Behrendt alliance:

Gilbert + Tobin has a strategic alliance with Chalk & Behrendt to provide market-leading commercial legal advice for Indigenous companies and organisations, and to governments and corporates working with Indigenous landholders and other groups. Read more about the alliance here.

Our experience includes advising:

  • A matter raising the enforceability on behalf of the purported Wong-Goo-Tt-oo group of an agreement the subject of their dismissed native title claim.
  • Trust drafting and remediation matters in relation to native title matters involving contributions from significant stakeholders (including BHP Billiton Iron Ore).
  • Significant native title determination matters, including Ward v WA and the Single Nyoongar claim. 
  • Native title and aboriginal heritage based commercial disputes including limitations on port use and dredging and other infrastructure issues.
  • Native title future act matters, including being the successful counsel in the watershed case of Holocene v Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation.
  • Negotiating several significant native title agreements including for the Western Australian Department of State Development on native title and environmental approvals issues for the James Price Point development, for Metals X in relation to the Wingelina Nickel Project and various other clients including Woodside Energy, BHP Billiton Petroleum and others.
  • CITIC Pacific Mining Management P/L in relation to a dispute with the now deregistered Wong-Goo-Tt-oo group.
  • Australian Executor Trustees in a number of matters including in relation to the resolution of structural issues with the Banjima B2 trust and in relation to a dispute in respect of a distribution policy under the Banjima B1 trust.
  • Metals X Limited in relation to negotiation of an ILUA with the Martu people in respect of the Nifty Mine.
  • Westgold Ltd in relation to the grant of key tenements at Higginsville and Big Bell gold mines.
  • Onslow Salt Pty Ltd in a dispute in the Federal Court of Australia. The Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation has brought novel claims against the State of Western Australia, Chevron Australia Pty Ltd and Onslow Salt Pty Ltd, including tortious interference with native title rights and interests and trespass in respect of native title rights.
  • Several mining and petroleum companies in setting strategies for and pursuing native title negotiations.
  • Several companies on confidential acquisitions that involved native title issues on significant aspects of the due diligence investigations for those acquisitions.

Marshall McKenna is recognised as a preeminent practitioner in native title.

Chambers Asia-Pacific and Doyle's Guide

Marshall McKenna is recognised as being a leading lawyer in: Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Mining Law, Native Title, and Land Access and Planning.

Best Lawyers 2020