The Surface Rights Board is a quasi-judicial tribunal that grants right of entry and assists landowners/occupants and operators resolve disputes about compensation when operators require access to private land or occupied crown land to develop subsurface resources such as oil, gas, and coal or to build and operate pipelines and power transmission lines.

Resolving Disputes
 
Hearing by Written Submissions

When the Board asks parties for submissions, it is asking for each party to provide written reasons for its position in the matter at hand, including documentary evidence. There is no standardized form for submissions, each party should write a letter or email explaining their position in their own words (or the words of their representative). Depending on how complicated the issue is, the Board may either make a decision based on the submissions alone, or it may proceed to another process, such as a pre-hearing dispute resolution conference.

When the matter at hand is complicated, the parties may decide to seek independent legal advice, even at the submissions stage. The landowner or occupant may request the Board to order their legal costs to be covered by the operator, as per Rule 31 of the Surface Rights Board Rules.

There are too many unique circumstances to say exactly what to include in submissions, but submissions often contain some of the following:

  • If the application at hand has any errors, such as an outdated list of respondents or outdated land description, say so in the submissions. If the history of the land is complicated, give a background of who had an interest in what and when.
  • If you believe that the person making the application did not meet all of the legal requirements for making that application, explain why.
  • If the application relates to an ongoing issue, give some background. How many times did you try to contact the other party to resolve the issue? What did they say?
  • For submissions relating to annual compensation, explain what circumstances have changed to require the compensation rate to be raised or lowered.
  • For submissions about applications for right of entry orders, explain what special circumstances exist on the land that are not covered by the Board’s standard conditions or the conditions given by the AUC or AER. Remember that when the Board asks for submissions for right of entry applications, this is not the right time to make submissions about compensation; that comes later.
  • For applications for damages, explain what damages occurred and why they are or are not the fault of the operator.
  • If you believe that the matter is complicated enough to require an oral hearing, explain why.
  • You may include legal precedents—such as past decisions by the Board or the courts—to support your argument.



 
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