General principles of boundary definition

In relocating title boundaries, a registered land surveyor employs a combination of fact, law, precedent and experience. The facts are obtained from a search of the title deeds and associated plans, supplemented by a field survey where marks, monuments and improvements on the ground can be related to the search information. The surveyor then applies the relevant principles of law and survey convention in deciding the position of the boundary.   

Surveyed parcel boundaries have traditionally been defined on the ground by the placement of survey marks and/or by reference to monuments and other natural or constructed features. Whilst there is no absolute rule as to the relative importance of various marks and features for any given case, convention holds that greater weighting be given to certain features wherever discrepancies or inconsistencies arise. This hierarchy of survey evidence is listed below, in descending order of importance: 

  • Natural features
  • Original Crown marks of grant boundaries
  • Monuments
  • Original undisturbed marks in private surveys
  • Occupations
  • Measurements

Advances in technology have enabled measurements to be made to higher standards of accuracy than were previously possible. This may in turn affect the relative future importance of measurements within the above hierarchy. In each case, the surveyor will balance all of the available evidence and provide a professional opinion as to the position of a title boundary.      

The dimensions of each lot or parcel of land in a deposited plan of survey must mathematically close to the tolerances specified in Clause 26 of the Surveying and Spatial Information Regulation 2017.

When differences of opinion occur between registered surveyors (each believing they have sufficient reasons to support their respective fixations), an affected landowner may resolve the matter by lodging a Determination of Title Boundary application (Form 14TB), see Application for determination of a title boundary

The principles of boundary definition are discussed in greater detail in other publications, including: 

  • Legal Aspects of Boundary Surveying - Hallmann, 1997
  • Notes on Survey Investigation - RW Willis, 1991
  • Some Aspects of Title Boundary Location in NSW - Hamer,1967
  • Rural Boundary Surveys - WA Searl, 1991
  • Surveyor-General's Directions