Fejo v Northern Territory (1998) 195 CLR 96

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  • On 6 December 1996, the Larrakia people, a community or group of Aboriginal Australians whose traditional lands encompass lands and waters around Darwin and the Cox Peninsula in the Northern Territory, lodged an application in the Federal Court for determination of native title.
  • In 1996, before the application was lodged, this land was subdivided by the Northern Territory into 15 parcels. Between July 1996 and the time at which the application was lodged, the Northern Territory granted Crown leases in respect of 8 of the 15 parcels.
  • Each of these leases contained a condition that permitted the lessee, on completion of development in accordance with the lease, and payment of any sum owing to the Northern Territory, to surrender the lease in exchange for a freehold title at no further cost.
  • The area was once granted in fee simple but had since reverted back to vacant Crown lands.


  • Can the land fall under native title if native title rights had been previously “extinguished” but would likely succeed now?


  • The High Court held that native title was extinguished by freehold grants and that the extinguishment was permanent.
  • Native title cannot exist concurrently at all with freehold grants.
  • Once native title is extinguished, it cannot be “restored”.

Full Text

The full text is available here:  https://jade.io/summary/mnc/1998/HCA/58

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