VSBC, VCAT & the courts

The VSBC is primarily a dispute resolution service for business-to-business disputes. We have a range of functions.

For business disputes, the main alternatives to the VSBC are the relevant adjudication body, such as Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or the courts.

There are some distinct differences between our services and those of VCAT or the courts. The main difference is that the VSBC does not make decisions about who is right or wrong – instead, we invite the parties to discuss the matter, in confidence, with the guidance of an independent mediator, to see if they can agree a mutually acceptable outcome and avoid the cost and delays of litigation.

Some disputes cannot progress to VCAT or the Courts without a certificate from the VSBC.

What disputes must be referred to the VSBC?

Certain disputes must first be referred to the VSBC for attempted resolution before they can be taken to the VCAT or the courts. These include disputes relating to:

  • retail leases (for example, tenant and landlord disputes)
  • owner drivers, forestry contractors and their hirers

Where a farmer is in default under a farm debt, the creditor must notify the farmer that they have a right to request the matter to be referred to the VSBC. Where the farmer exercises this right, the creditor cannot proceed with enforcement action.

Disputes between taxi drivers and operators must first be referred to the Taxi Services Commissioner (TSC). If unable to resolve the dispute, the TSC may refer the parties to the VSBC.

General business disputes do not need to be referred to the VSBC as a first port of call; however, if you are involved in a business dispute we encourage you to get in contact.

Our services are quick, low cost and have a high success rate. Many of the businesses we have assisted in the past have found that trying to resolve a dispute through preliminary assistance or mediation is preferable to litigation, which can be costly, stressful and time consuming

What decisions can they make?

Essentially, VCAT and the courts are decision-making bodies and what they decide upon is final and binding. In some cases, however, VCAT or the courts may order the disputing parties to mediate the matter.

The VSBC does not make decisions about who is right or wrong, but attempts to guide the parties to reach a commercial resolution to a dispute that they can agree to, either through preliminary assistance (working with the parties via telephone or correspondence) or mediation.

When should I go directly to VCAT?

If a matter is urgent and a party is seeking an injunction, they can go directly to VCAT or the Courts. Similarly, general business disputes can be referred directly to VCAT or the Courts.

However, under the specific legislation all other areas must first come to the VSBC. If a party doesn’t attempt mediation, the VSBC can issue a certificate stating this, and this may have cost implications at VCAT.

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