FAQs

These frequently asked questions are provided as a guide. For specific information, or advice about your dispute contact us.

Dispute resolution FAQs

What matters are dealt with through preliminary assistance versus mediation?

What matters are dealt with through preliminary assistance versus mediation?

This is very much dependent on the issues and the nature of the parties’ dispute. Sometimes, in the case of small amounts of money, or where the legal obligations of one or both parties are clear, preliminary assistance may take place.

Equally, the respondent may receive the letter from the VSBC and decide to fix the problem upon receipt of the letter and the tenant’s application. For example, a landlord who has ignored a tenant’s request to fix a leaking roof may decide to address the issue immediately rather than go through the dispute resolution process with the VSBC.

 

Are there any disputes that the VSBC doesn’t handle?

Are there any disputes that the VSBC doesn’t handle?

The VSBC may refuse to deal with a complaint that it considers vexatious, trivial, unlikely to be resolved, or more appropriately handled by another body. We will assess this upon receiving an application for dispute or during a preliminary phone call with one or both of the parties.

The VSBC has no definition of ‘small business’ and can deal with any dispute between businesses, with local or state government bodies or not-for-profits.

How does the VSBC resolve disputes?

How does the VSBC resolve disputes?

If you are interested in dispute resolution assistance from the VSBC you will first need to complete an application form. Before you submit this we encourage you to try to resolve the dispute directly with the other party first.

When we have received an application form from a business, the VSBC will offer pre-mediation services. This process involves a dispute resolution officer who will contact both parties, by phone or email,  and attempt to resolve the dispute by working through the issues.

If this is unsuccessful, the dispute resolution officer will forward the parties to mediation.

For more information, see dispute resolution.

How do I notify the VSBC of a dispute?

How do I notify the VSBC of a dispute?

If you would like to notify the VSBC of a dispute, complete the appropriate application form:

What if the matter is urgent?

What if the matter is urgent?

The VSBC has the capacity to handle a dispute if the parties are seeking urgent mediation.

However, if you are seeking an urgent injunction (an order requiring one party to do, or stop doing, certain things), you may need to go directly to VCAT or the Courts.

What happens if I decline to participate in dispute resolution?

What happens if I decline to participate in dispute resolution?

If you decline to participate in dispute resolution or the mediation process, the VSBC can issue a certificate stating that you have refused to participate. The outcome of this differs depending on which legislation your dispute falls under.

For retail leasing, goods and freight owner drivers , and taxi, hire cars and rideshare disputes, the VSBC may issue a certificate stating that reasonable attempts have been made to arrange mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution but have been unsuccessful because the:

  • applicant/respondent refused to take part in mediation
  • applicant/respondent withdrew from mediation
  • applicant/respondent cannot be contacted
  • respondent agreed to mediate but was unavailable for mediation for an extended period of time
  • applicant/respondent failed to attend scheduled mediation session

This certificate is necessary for the matter to be referred to VCAT.

In the case of disputes relating to small businesses, if a party refuses to engage with the VSBC in trying to resolve the complaint and the VSBC determines that refusal is unreasonable, we may issue a certificate to that effect and publish details of that certificate in the VSBC’s Annual Report to Parliament.

The certificate may be admitted as evidence in proceedings before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or a court.

The Commissioner has developed Operational Guidelines on what is considered ‘unreasonable refusal’ for disputes under the Small Business Commission Act 2017.

In the case of farmers in default on a farm debt, if the farmer seeks mediation through the VSBC, the creditor requires a certificate from the VSBC to enable it to take enforcement action.

If a certificate relating to retail leasing, owner driver/forestry contractor dispute or taxi driver and operator dispute states that a party refused to mediate or withdrew from mediation, VCAT has the discretion to award costs against that party if the matter proceeds to VCAT.

Do I need to respond to a letter from the VSBC?

Do I need to respond to a letter from the VSBC?

If you have received an initial letter or email from the VSBC in regards to a complaint, you will be requested to make contact with the VSBC by the date specified in the correspondence.

If you are unsure about the letter or the complaint, Contact Us.

Can the VSBC help me?

Can the VSBC help me?

The VSBC can help if you are a small or medium business operator and need assistance on any matter relating to unfair market practices or commercial dealings. At least one party to the dispute needs to be in Victoria.

If you are unsure if our services are right for you,  Contact Us or call us on 13 VSBC (13 8722).

You can discuss your concerns with a dispute resolution officer who may suggest that you complete an application or other means for resolving the dispute.

Who is a respondent?

Who is a respondent?

A respondent is someone who receives notification from the VSBC asking that they engage with the VSBC to resolve a dispute. It is important to remember that, even if you are the respondent, the VSBC does not take sides. Our aim is to find a resolution that is acceptable to both parties.

Who is an applicant?

Who is an applicant?

An applicant is a person or business applying for dispute resolution services.

Mediation FAQs

How much does mediation cost?

How much does mediation cost?

For most business disputes, each party currently pays $195 per session for mediation, making it a very low-cost alternative to litigation. The exceptions are owner driver and forestry contractors, and taxi, hire cars and rideshare driver and operator disputes, which currently cost $95 per party.

If either side wants to bring along their own lawyer they can do so, but at their own cost.

Payment must be made on the day of mediation (EFTPOS or cheque) or prior to mediation by contacting the VSBC offices.

What happens if mediation is successful?

What happens if mediation is successful?

If the mediation is successful, both parties sign a Terms of Settlement.

The Terms of Settlement are legally enforceable – that is, if either party breaches the agreement (for example, by not paying money as per the agreement), the other party may take the agreement to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or the courts for enforcement.

Can mediation be rescheduled?

Can mediation be rescheduled?

Yes, within reason (such as medical reasons). The rescheduled mediation must occur within 30 days of the original mediation date.

If a mediation session is arranged and you cannot participate on the day, or do not want to proceed, the VSBC must be notified at least five working days prior to the scheduled date. For any notice period of less than five days, you will be invoiced the full cost of mediation ($900).

What if a party doesn’t turn up?

What if a party doesn’t turn up?

Occasionally this will happen. In most cases, a certificate is issued stating this. The mediator engaged for the session will invoice the party who has not attended the full cost of the mediation ($900).

Where does mediation take place?

Where does mediation take place?

Victorian Small Business Commission mediation rooms;

Conference Centre
Level 2, 1 Spring Street
Melbourne

(enter via Flinders Lane)

For disputes in regional areas, mediations can be arranged in a location that suits both parties.

The VSBC will arrange for a mediator to travel to regional locations and organise the venue. Some VSBC mediators are regionally based.

What happens if my dispute is not resolved at mediation?

What happens if my dispute is not resolved at mediation?

The answer to this question depends on what type of dispute you have. In general the VSBC has the capacity to issue a certificate stating that the mediation was unsuccessful. This certificate can enable a party to progress the matter to litigation for some disputes.

What documents do I need to bring?

What documents do I need to bring?

If you have extra documents in addition to the ones already provided to the VSBC and you plan to refer to those during the mediation, either send them to the mediator or have them available on the day of the mediation.

You don’t have to share documents with the other party, but this occurs in most cases as it can help the mediation. Sometimes, for example, a party may choose to provide documentation to the dispute resolution officer or mediator as background information only.

If you need to clarify any issues about the delivery of the documents, contact the mediator using the contact information provided in the invitation.

Reference documents relevant to the dispute may be provided to all parties before mediation.

How long does mediation take?

How long does mediation take?

The average length of mediation is around three to four hours, but it can sometimes take longer. Consider this when making your plans for the day and, if you travel by car, be sure to make appropriate parking arrangements.

How should I prepare for mediation?

How should I prepare for mediation?

It is important you are well prepared to make the most of the mediation as it may be your last opportunity to meet with the other party to try and resolve the matter before litigation. For more information about how you can prepare for your mediation see our mediation checklist.

What if English is my second language?

What if English is my second language?

If you believe you might have some language difficulties, contact the VSBC and ask for an interpreter to be at the mediation. The VSBC will provide this service free of charge. You may also have a friend or family member present to translate, if needed.

Can I bring along a friend or relative?

Can I bring along a friend or relative?

Yes, you may wish to have a support person to either attend mediation with you, or be on the phone during the process. If you intend to bring along a person for support, you must provide the name and role of the person to the VSBC prior to mediation. See see Authority to participate in VSBC mediation.

Can I have a lawyer present?

Can I have a lawyer present?

You may wish to have legal or other professional representation. If you believe you will need such representation, make sure you can afford it and make all the arrangements well in advance so these representatives can prepare and make themselves available for the mediation. You must also notify the VSBC with the names and roles of the people who will attend the mediation. See see Authority to participate in VSBC mediation.

There is no requirement for you to be represented – you make the decision.

Do I need to attend mediation in person?

Do I need to attend mediation in person?

The process of mediation works better if the parties themselves are present. However, you can have representatives in your place, as long as those representatives can make a decision, and sign a written settlement agreement at the end of the mediation on your behalf.

If you are unable to attend your mediation, you need to arrange for another person to have authority  to make decisions on your behalf. For more information see Authority to participate in VSBC mediation.

How long does it take to get my case to mediation?

How long does it take to get my case to mediation?

Mediation is generally held around 6-8 weeks after the dispute is referred to the VSBC. It can be organised much faster if both parties are agreeable, or the matter is urgent.

How do I get my case to mediation?

How do I get my case to mediation?

To apply for mediation, complete an application form.

Small business FAQs

Does the VSBC arrange mediation for all small business disputes?

Does the VSBC arrange mediation for all small business disputes?

The VSBC will first attempt to resolve a dispute through preliminary assistance and some ‘shuttle negotiation’ between the parties. Where this is not possible, the VSBC will determine if mediation is appropriate for the particular dispute. Factors taken into account include the amount in dispute, and whether the nature of dispute lends itself to a negotiated outcome.

Is there a limit to the amount in dispute the VSBC can deal with?

Is there a limit to the amount in dispute the VSBC can deal with?

No. The VSBC can assist with any amount in dispute, ranging from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars.

Can the VSBC refuse to accept an application from a business?

Can the VSBC refuse to accept an application from a business?

The VSBC can determine not to deal with an application if the dispute appears trivial, vexatious or not within the VSBC jurisdiction. Otherwise, the VSBC accepts disputes from all types and sizes of businesses. There is usually a small or medium sized business involved in any dispute.

Does a general commercial dispute have to be brought to the VSBC?

Does a general commercial dispute have to be brought to the VSBC?

No. There is no statutory obligation for general commercial disputes to come to the VSBC. But they can be. Resolution rates for these types of disputes is high, keeping both parties out of expensive and distracting litigation.

What happens if my business dispute is not resolved at mediation?

What happens if my business dispute is not resolved at mediation?

If mediation takes place and a dispute is not resolved, the VSBC can issue a certificate stating that alternative dispute resolution has been attempted but has been unsuccessful. For some disputes, this certificate is necessary for the matter to proceed to litigation.

What happens if I don’t engage with the VSBC in a general business dispute?

What happens if I don’t engage with the VSBC in a general business dispute?

The VSBC cannot compel a party to engage under any Act. If a party refuses to engage with the VSBC in trying to resolve the complaint and the VSBC determines that refusal is unreasonable, they may issue a certificate to that effect and publish details of that certificate in the VSBC’s Annual Report to Parliament.

This certificate may be used before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or a court.

The VSBC has developed Operational Guidelines on what it deems as ‘unreasonable refusal’.

What if I am a franchisee and have a dispute?

What if I am a franchisee and have a dispute?

If you are a franchisee and you have a dispute, the VSBC can help you by offering low-cost, speedy and high-quality mediation services.

Under the Franchising Code of Conduct, mediation of a dispute is mandatory. The VSBC mediation service satisfies the requirements of the Code.

You can find out more on our how mediation works page.

If the issue relates to your lease agreement, see the entering into a retail lease page.

What is a general business or commercial dispute?

What is a general business or commercial dispute?

A general business or commercial dispute can be described as a conflict arising from any commercial agreement between businesses, or between businesses and government or not-for-profit organisations.

What types of small business disputes does the VSBC handle?

What types of small business disputes does the VSBC handle?

The VSBC is not constrained by any legislated definition of ‘small business’. We receive complaints from businesses about all forms of commercial dealings, including disputes with other businesses, not-for-profits, and local and state government entities. We can also resolve disputes that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the other Acts administered by the VSBC. These may involve franchises, non-retail leases, buying a business, intellectual property, distribution agreements, licences, supply chains, partnership break-ups, etc.

Retail tenants and landlords FAQs

Does a tenant have to pay GST under the lease?

Does a tenant have to pay GST under the lease?

If a landlord is registered for GST then GST is payable on rent and outgoings. However, often there can be confusion about whether a lease is inclusive of exclusive of GST. It is therefore important that a lease specifies whether GST is inclusive or exclusive.

The landlord’s disclosure statement for new leases (Schedules 1 and 2) makes provision for the landlord to outline whether GST is inclusive or exclusive.

More information about how GST applies to outgoings for retail leases can be found on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website or by contacting the ATO on 13 28 66.

What happens if a tenant receives a notice of default from the landlord?

What happens if a tenant receives a notice of default from the landlord?

If a landlord deems that a tenant has breached the lease, the landlord may issue a notice of default to the tenant. Default notices are often given to tenants for non-payment of rent. The process for issuing a notice of default will usually be what is outlined in the lease, i.e. the lease may state that if a tenant is behind in rent, the landlord may issue a breach notice to the tenant giving the tenant 14 days (or another time period reflected in the lease) to remedy the breach, otherwise the landlord may re-enter the premises.

Relevant legislation is Section 146 of the Property Law Act 1958 which covers restrictions and relief against forfeiture of leases and under-leases.

If a tenant has concerns that the landlord may re-enter the premise, the matter can be referred to VCAT for an urgent injunction.

What happens at the end of a lease?

What happens at the end of a lease?

If no option exists, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing within 6-12 months of the date the lease expires whether the landlord will offer a lease renewal or not, and if so, the terms of any renewal.

If an option exists, the landlord must notify the tenant of the last date the tenant can exercise the option, 6-12 months prior to that date.

An option may not be exercisable by the tenant if the tenant has not remedied any notified lease default or has persistently defaulted throughout the lease term.

If an option is exercised or the lease is to be renewed, the landlord must provide a disclosure statement at least 21 days prior to the end of the lease.

The landlord must return the security deposit plus interest as soon as practicable after the lease ends provided the tenant has performed all of its obligations under the lease.

See Options and Renewals and Security Deposits for more information.

What happens during a lease?

What happens during a lease?

During the term of a lease:

  • If the lease provides for a rent review, it must state when the review is to take place, and the basis on which the review will be made.
  • A lease cannot prevent the reduction of the rent when rent is reviewed or adjusted.
  • A tenant is only liable to pay outgoings specified in the estimate of outgoings and the lease.
  • The landlord must provide estimates of outgoings and statements of outgoings during the course of the lease.
  • Capital costs relating to the premises are not recoverable from the tenant.
  • Land tax is not recoverable from the tenant.
  • The landlord is responsible for maintaining the premises in a condition consistent with the condition of the premises when the lease was entered into. This includes the structure and fixtures, plant and equipment; and appliances, fittings and fixtures relating to specified services.
  • The tenant may arrange for urgent repairs, subject to complying with prescribed procedures.
  • The landlord must notify the tenant in writing at least 60 days prior to any proposed alterations or refurbishments that may affect the tenant’s business. The tenant may be entitled to compensation.
  • A landlord may be liable to pay a tenant compensation for loss or damage resulting from the landlord’s actions or in-actions affecting the tenant’s trading at the retail premises.

See the Retail Tenants and Landlords section for more information.

What happens if I wish to sell the business?

What happens if I wish to sell the business?

If you are selling the business and assigning (transferring) the lease:

  • A landlord is only entitled to withhold consent to the assignment (transfer) of a lease in certain, limited circumstances.
  • An assignment of a lease is taken as a continuation of that lease.
  • A landlord can recover from the tenant reasonable legal and other expenses incurred in connection with an assignment (or sublease).

See Assigning a retail premises lease for more information.

Can a tenant be prevented from assigning a lease?

Can a tenant be prevented from assigning a lease?

No, provided none of the limited grounds in section 60 of the Retail Leases Act 2003 exist on which a landlord may withhold consent to assignment.

Section 61 of the Act contains the procedure that a tenant must follow in order to obtain consent to assign the lease. The landlord has an obligation to act reasonably in consenting to a transfer of lease (section 144 of the Property Law Act, 1958).

See Assigning a retail premises lease for more information.

Does a ‘repainting’ clause mean the tenant has to repaint to a new condition even though the condition was poor to start with?

Does a ‘repainting’ clause mean the tenant has to repaint to a new condition even though the condition was poor to start with?

Yes, if this is what the tenant has agreed to in the lease. It is very important that tenants check a lease’s ‘make good’ and maintenance requirements. Wherever possible, tenants and landlords should agree on a Condition Report at the start of a lease to avoid future disputes.

What should I be aware of before entering a lease?

What should I be aware of before entering a lease?

Before entering into any contractual leasing arrangement, you should understand your rights, responsibilities and expectations. If you are unsure, seek legal advice.

Be aware, too, of the following:

  • A copy of the lease must be provided to the tenant at negotiation stage, together with a copy of Retail Leases -Important facts for tenants.
  • A Disclosure Statement must be given to the tenant at least seven days before entering into the lease.
  • A lease must be in writing and signed by all the parties to it, and the landlord must provide to the tenant a copy signed by both parties.
  • The landlord cannot pass onto the tenant the cost of preparing the lease or disclosure statement.
  • A lease term under the Retail Leases Act 2003 (including any options) must be at least five years, although a tenant may request a shorter term.

However, the Act (other than the dispute resolution provision) does not apply to a lease with a term of less than one year and where the tenant has not been in continuous occupancy for more than one year.

Money paid as a security deposit must be held by the landlord in an interest bearing account. Interest forms part of the security deposit.

See Retail Tenants and Landlords section for more information.

What happens if my retail leasing dispute is not resolved at mediation?

What happens if my retail leasing dispute is not resolved at mediation?

For disputes under the Retail Leases Act 2003, if mediation at the VSBC is unable to resolve the dispute, a certificate can be issued to enable a party to proceed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The VSBC can also certify that a party has refused to participate in the mediation or alternative dispute resolution process and this may have cost implications at VCAT for the party that refuses to participate.

Does the Retail Leases Act 2003 apply to offices?

Does the Retail Leases Act 2003 apply to offices?

This depends on the use of the premises under the terms of the lease. If the use is wholly or predominantly for the retail provision of services and the premises are wholly located within the ground, first and second storey, then yes.

A service business on the third storey (where there is a ground, first and second storey) and above is not covered by the Act, though the dispute resolution provisions do apply (Part 10 of the Act).

See VSBC Guidelines ‘What are “retail premises”? for more information.

Do all outgoings have to be listed in a commercial lease to enable the tenant to be charged?

Do all outgoings have to be listed in a commercial lease to enable the tenant to be charged?

Yes, this is provided for under section 39 of the Retail Leases Act 2003.

See Outgoings for more information.

When does a variation of a lease become a new lease?

When does a variation of a lease become a new lease?

This depends on the variation involved. In certain circumstances a variation can constitute a new lease, but it would depend on the variation in question.

A variation of lease occurs when a substantial change to the original lease is made.

Many variations will not necessarily cause a surrender and re-grant of a lease. If it is not the intention of the parties to create a new lease, legal advice should be obtained before a lease is varied, especially if such variations are to be extensive.

Note: If a new retail lease is created via a variation, the landlord must provide the tenant with a new Disclosure Statement.

Can a landlord force a tenant to move premises?

Can a landlord force a tenant to move premises?

The landlord can only force a tenant to move premises if a there is a relocation clause in the lease.

If the lease does not contain a relocation clause, the landlord cannot move the tenant.

If the lease does contain a relocation clause, it should specify the conditions under which the landlord can relocate the tenant.

Under the Retail Leases Act 2003 certain conditions for relocation apply to the lease. For example:

  • the new premises must be ‘reasonably comparable’ to the existing premises
  • the rent for the new premises is to be generally the same as for the existing premises
  • the landlord must pay the tenant’s reasonable costs of the relocation

In addition to the lease, the Act also provides that the Disclosure Statement (provided by the landlord to the tenant) must specify whether the lease contains a relocation clause and if the landlord has any plans for the building in which the premises are located during the term of the lease which may invoke the relocation clause.

Section 55 of the Act covers the issue of relocation of the tenant’s business.

Under what circumstances can a tenant claim compensation from a landlord?

Under what circumstances can a tenant claim compensation from a landlord?

Under the Retail Leases Act 2003, a tenant can claim reasonable compensation for interference from a landlord under the following circumstances:

  • if a landlord inhibits the tenant’s access to the premises
  • unreasonably taking action that causes significant disruption to the tenant’s trading at the premises
  • failing to rectify as soon as is practical any breakdown of plant or equipment that is not under the tenant’s care or maintenance.

Section 54 of the Act covers the issue of relocation of the tenant’s business. Disputes over compensation can be referred to the VSBC for dispute resolution.

Who determines the rent for a retail lease?

Who determines the rent for a retail lease?

For new retail premises leases, the rent will be negotiated and decided upon by the landlord and prospective tenant.

For existing leases, the rent will be determined by the rent review provisions in the lease and specifications in the lease.

Rental increases may occur throughout the lease – if the lease provides for it – by a fixed percentage or amount, or by a certain figure determined by the consumer price index (CPI).

If renewing a lease, the lease usually provides for a market review of the rent to determine the value. In this case a range of factors are considered, for example, the location, size and condition of the premises. If the parties cannot agree on the rental for the new term, the parties may require a valuer to determine the rent. If the parties cannot agree on the valuer’s appointment, the VSBC can assist parties in appointing a specialist retail valuer.

What should a tenant do if the landlord won’t maintain the premises?

What should a tenant do if the landlord won’t maintain the premises?

The landlord is obliged to maintain the premises consistent with the condition of the premises at the start of the lease. This requirement under the Retail Leases Act 2003 overrides any lease provisions to the contrary.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to repair the premises so the tenant can carry on their business uninterrupted.

See Repairs and maintenance for more information.

What if a tenant leaves the premises without notifying the landlord?

What if a tenant leaves the premises without notifying the landlord?

A retail lease is a legal document and is binding to all parties who sign it.

If a tenant must still fulfil obligations under the lease, but has left the premises without notifying the landlord and is no longer paying rent, then the landlord has:

  • a legal right to re-enter and terminate the lease on the grounds that the tenant has abandoned the premises
  • the right to take action against the tenant to recover any money lost because of the tenant’s departure

We may suggest taking part in mediation with the tenant, or obtaining an order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) that the tenant pay the outstanding money.

Contact us to discuss your options.

What if a tenant wants to get out of a retail lease?

What if a tenant wants to get out of a retail lease?

A retail lease is a legally binding document and therefore both parties must agree to end a lease.

If the landlord does not wish to end the lease, the tenant may be responsible for the landlord’s reasonable out-of-pocket expenses in finding a new tenant.

The actual amount the tenant is responsible for is a matter of negotiation between the parties, but the costs may include rent until the premises are re-let and the agent’s re-letting fees.

What if a landlord won't provide a tenant with a copy of the lease?

What if a landlord won't provide a tenant with a copy of the lease?

Under the Retail Leases Act 2003 a landlord must give the tenant a copy of the lease signed by both parties within 28 days of the date of the tenant giving the signed lease to the landlord.

If this does not happen with the 28-day timeframe, a tenant may give the landlord notice to terminate the lease.

See the Retail Leases -Important facts for tenants for more information.

What can a tenant do if a landlord or real estate agent won’t return the security deposit?

What can a tenant do if a landlord or real estate agent won’t return the security deposit?

A landlord or real estate agent must return a tenant’s bond if the tenant has performed all his/her obligations under the lease. This usually happens once the tenant vacates the premises.

Subject to this, the landlord or real estate agent should return the bond as soon as possible after the lease ends.

If the bond (and any accrued interest) is not returned, or only part of the amount has been returned and the tenant feels entitled to receive the bond back in full, the matter can be referred to the VSBC for dispute resolution.

See Security deposits for more information.

Who is responsible for paying land tax under the Retail Leases Act 2003?

Who is responsible for paying land tax under the Retail Leases Act 2003?

Section 50 of the Retail Leases Act 2003 states that a landlord cannot pass on land tax to a tenant.

What are retail premises?

What are retail premises?

Retail premises are more than just ‘shops’. The Retail Leases Act 2003 also covers premises used for consumer, business, trade services or hire of goods (for example, estate agents, doctors and mechanics). This excludes any area intended for use as a residence.

Premises that do not constitute retail premises are defined in Ministerial Determinations.

See VSBC Guidelines What are “retail premises? for more information.

What is the coverage of the Retail Leases Act 2003?

What is the coverage of the Retail Leases Act 2003?

Retail leases legislation applies to premises that are used wholly or predominantly for the sale or hire of goods by retail or the retail provision of services, and where the occupancy cost is less than $1 million per year (the occupancy cost of retail premises is the combined cost of rent and outgoings).

Retail leases legislation does not apply to:

  • tenants in the business of wholesaling, manufacturing or storage
  • tenants that are listed corporations or subsidiaries of listed corporations
  • leases for a term of less than one year unless consecutively renewed
  • premises or businesses that are excluded under Ministerial Determinations.

See VSBC Guidelines What are “retail premises? for more information.

Owner drivers and forestry contractors FAQs

What happens if my owner driver and forestry contract dispute is not resolved at mediation?

What happens if my owner driver and forestry contract dispute is not resolved at mediation?

If mediation at the VSBC is unable to resolve a dispute under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, a certificate can be issued to enable a party to proceed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The VSBC can also certify that a party has refused to participate in the mediation or alternative dispute resolution process. This may have cost implications at VCAT for the party that refuses to participate. More information can be found on the goods and freight owner drivers page.

How do I apply for a waiver certificate for the minimum period of notice of termination?

How do I apply for a waiver certificate for the minimum period of notice of termination?

Under the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 owner drivers and forestry contractors who have been in an ongoing engagement for more than three months are entitled to a minimum period of notice of termination of their contracts (except in cases of serious and wilful misconduct). The period of notice may be worked out, or paid in lieu.

The minimum period required to be given by either party to terminate a contract is:

  • Three months’ notice for vehicles in excess of 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass
  • One month’s notice for other vehicles

If this notice requirement does not suit the owner driver or forestry contractor, the requirement can be waived by the owner driver or forestry contractor obtaining a waiver certificate from the VSBC.

To apply for waiver, download the Waiver request form.

What does the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 cover?

What does the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 cover?

The Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 provides basic protections for small business owner drivers, forestry contractors and haulage contractors and a framework for the effective resolution of commercial disputes between these contractors and their hirers, and vice versa.

The legislation outlines provisions for owner drivers, forestry contractors, haulage contractors and hirers in Victoria. Together with the legislation, there is also:

These documents, and more information about the Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005, can be found by referring to the Business Victoria website.

Farmers and farm creditors FAQs

What happens if my farm debt mediation dispute is not resolved at mediation?

What happens if my farm debt mediation dispute is not resolved at mediation?

If the mediation was conducted under the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2011, a creditor may request an exemption certificate to commence debt recovery proceedings if the VSBC considers satisfactory mediation has occurred.

However, if the VSBC considers a creditor has refused to mediate, or failed to mediate in good faith, it can issue a prohibition certificate, which prohibits the creditor from taking further recovery action for up to six months.

If the VSBC considers a farmer has refused to mediate, or failed to mediate in good faith, it can issue an exemption certificate to the creditor enabling it to commence recovery action.

Where can I find out more about the process?

Where can I find out more about the process?

All details relating to the process for mediation under the Act can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website.

The farm debt mediation scheme is administered by Agriculture Victoria — please contact the Farm Debt Mediation Officer on 136 186 for further information.

What is the VSBC role with farm debt matters?

What is the VSBC role with farm debt matters?

The VSBC mediates farm debt disputes under the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2011.

The legislation aims to resolve farm debt disputes efficiently and equitably by requiring a creditor to provide a farmer with the option to mediate before taking possession of property or other enforcement action under a farm mortgage.

There are two types of mediation available under the Act. The first is creditor-initiated mediation, which results from a creditor issuing a notice under section 8 of the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2011. The second is farmer-initiated mediation, where a farmer takes the initiative to request mediation with their creditor.

Read more on the VSBC’s  farm debt mediation page

Taxi, hire car and rideshare FAQs

When can applications for mediation with the VSBC for taxi driver and operator disputes be lodged?

When can applications for mediation with the VSBC for taxi driver and operator disputes be lodged?

Applications must be lodged with the VSBC within 30 days of a certificate being issued by the Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV). The application form must be accompanied by a copy of the CPVV certificate.

How does the VSBC deal with disputes between taxi, hire car and rideshare drivers and their operators?

How does the VSBC deal with disputes between taxi, hire car and rideshare drivers and their operators?

Disputes between drivers and operators over a Driver Agreement must first be lodged with the Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV). If the CPVV is unable to resolve the dispute and it is amenable to mediation, the CPVV will issue a certificate for the parties enabling them to lodge an application for mediation with the VSBC.

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