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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

The VSBC cannot compel a party to engage under any Act, but 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 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?

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 about our mediation services here.

If the issue relates to your lease agreement read this article to work out who your landlord is.


What is a general business or commercial dispute?

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

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 with other businesses, not-for-profits, and local and state government entities and can resolve dispute 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.


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