There is no cost to the parties to use the VSBC’s email or phone information services, or if a dispute is resolved prior to mediation by a VSBC staff member working with the parties.
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 Contractor, and Taxi Driver and Operator disputes, which currently cost $95 per party. The VSBC subsidises the majority of the costs and provides the venue free of charge.
If either side wants to bring along their own lawyer they can do so, but at their own cost.
Note: Payment must be made on the day of mediation, prior to mediation taking place.
If the mediation is successful, the parties sign 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 VCAT or the Courts for enforcement.
Yes, within reason (medical reasons, for example).
It should be noted, however, that if a mediation session is arranged and you cannot participate on the day appointed, 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 mediator’s fee for that day ($900).
Occasionally this will happen. In most cases, a certificate is issued stating that this is the case. The mediator engaged for the session will invoice the party who has not attended the full cost of the mediation ($900).
Mediation usually takes place at the:
Victorian Small Business Commission
Level 2, 121 Exhibition Street
However, 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.
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. For more information, see:
- What happens if my business dispute is not resolved at mediation?
- What happens if my owner driver and forestry contractor dispute is not resolved at mediation?
- What happens if my farm debt mediation dispute is not resolved at mediation?
- What happens if my retail lease dispute is not resolved at mediation?
- What happens if my taxi dispute is not resolved at mediation?
If you have any 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 aid the mediation. Sometimes, for example, a party may only 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, please feel free to contact the mediator using the contact information provided in the invitation.
Reference documents relevant to the dispute may be provided to all parties prior to mediation.
The average length of mediation is around three to four hours, but it can sometimes take longer. Please take this into consideration when making your plans for the day and, if you travel by car, be sure to make appropriate parking arrangements.
It is very important that 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.
Here are some tips on how to prepare:
- Prepare a short statement. This should tell your side of the story. Restrict your statement to the key issues. Try not get caught up in the minor issues that often arise in disputes.
- Think about the outcome you would like to achieve. If you could get the other party to agree to whatever you wanted, what would that be?
- Think about your bottom line. What is the minimum you can really afford to accept?
- Think outside the square. Consider the different ways that you may be open to settling the dispute and be ready to discuss them. For example, can you compromise about accepting or paying an amount of money?
- Consider the position of the other party. Think about what the other party may want to achieve and consider your position in relation to that – would you be able to offer part of what they want in order to reach a compromise? No matter how convinced you are as to the strength of your position, be prepared to accept there may be potential weaknesses in your case – even if your case looks to you to be very strong, nobody has an entirely bullet-proof case.
- Have an open mind. Come to the mediation in good faith – be prepared to listen to the other party's version of events with an open mind and be prepared to compromise.
- Settlement agreement. If the dispute is resolved, be prepared to sign a written settlement agreement at the end of the mediation.
- Consider payment. You will have to pay the mediation fee before the commencement of the mediation. The amount of the fee and the payment instructions will be advised in the mediation invitation you will receive.
- Consider the alternative. If you can't reach a negotiated settlement the dispute is likely to progress to litigation, with delays, costs and disruption to your business.
If you believe you might have some language difficulties, please contact the VSBC and ask for an interpreter to be provided 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.
Yes, you may wish to have a support person to either attend mediation with you, or be contactable during the process.
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, if you can, make all the arrangements well in advance so that these representatives can prepare and make themselves available for the mediation.
Please note that there is no requirement for you to be represented – you make the decision.
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 on your behalf.
Mediations are 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.