QLD Retaining Wall and Fences Collapsed - Whose Responsibility?

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Active Member
12 October 2014
We have a property lower than our neighbour's retaining wall. It has been confirmed the wall is theirs through surveyor, council plans and land contour maps. The original owner filled the property to be level. During that 12 months we have excavated raised garden beds on our property and the operator left approx. 900mm from their retaining wall to not disturb the wall while we proceeded with renovation. We have had concrete sleepers and steel uprights delivered to be installed where our garden beds were and not touch neighbours wall. Ours has been engineered.

During recent Cyclone Marcia rain the neighbours wall and Colorbond fences collapsed down onto out property. We are all working amicably to get the wall sorted and agreed we need to complete ours in order for them to do theirs higher as our backfill will support their new uprights better. The heated conversation now is his argument is we excavated into natural land near his wall so the failing wall is our fault. Our argument is your wall has failed over last five years, collapsed in areas we have excavated near and now that we inspect the damage we see his 1.2m (above ground) uprights were only in the ground by 60cm and back fill was ash mix which absorbs water and can cause more pressure behind his wall.

Is there a law that states we may be responsible for his poorly built wall due to excavation work being done near his wall? He has told me he will get the wall fixed but I'm worried he will try and sue us for costs afterwards.


Well-Known Member
10 February 2015
Hi there,

In NSW a negligence claim can be brought in some circumstances where a person has interfered with their land in such a way that it removed the support from other land. That is, landholders have a duty of care not to tamper with their land in such a way that it removes support from other land. I had a look to see if there was a similar law in Queensland, but it looks as though the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 doesn't comprehensively address situations involving retaining walls.

I then had a look at the Queensland Legal Aid website and it specifically says that the laws around Retaining walls in Queensland are complex and that people with these issues should seek legal help. So, I think you should give your local Community Legal Centre a call! Fences and retaining walls

However just as an aside, if the fence fell down due to the cyclone, then your neighbour will probably have a hard time proving that it was due to you tampering with your land. Also, you might want to see if the retaining wall meets industry standards: Department of Housing and Public Works |
Queensland Development Code