Dispute resolution

With the commencement of the Victorian Small Business Commission on 1 July 2017, the VSBC continues to provide an efficient and low cost small business dispute resolution service and is now able to resolve disputes between businesses and a broader range of organisations, including professional associations, educational institutions, industry bodies and certain special bodies within government.

Providing dispute resolution services is a key role of the VSBC – the VSBC helps to resolve business disputes through preliminary assistance or mediation.

The process is simple: we invite both parties to discuss the issues they have and engage them in trying to resolve the dispute. Our aim is to help you avoid the cost, time and emotion of litigation.

The VSBC arranges confidential mediation of your dispute, under the guidance of an independent mediator.

Our service is designed to help you keep control of your dispute and avoid the cost, uncertainty, delay and disruption of litigation.

Our services

We can help you by providing accessible dispute resolution for your business.

The VSBC’s service:

  • is independent and confidential;
  • is no cost or low cost;
  • is quick with high success rates;
  • doesn’t require legal representation;
  • helps resolve disputes by thinking outside the square;
  • helps to ensure business relationships continue;
  • helps parties to avoid long, costly, emotional and disruptive litigation.

How much does it cost?

There is no application fee to refer a dispute with the VSBC.

Preliminary assistance is free. This where a dispute management officer will engage with the parties over the phone or email prior to mediation to try to resolve the dispute.

Mediation is $195 for each party for a half day session for:

  • retail leasing disputes
  • small business disputes

Mediation is $195 for each party for a mediation session (up to one day) for:

  •     farm debt mediation matters

Mediation is $95 for each party for a half day session for:

  • taxi operator – driver disputes
  • owner driver / forestry contractor disputes

The VSBC will determine  whether a mediation should be scheduled for half a day or a full day.

Mediation costs are payable on the day of mediation.

There are three main elements to the VSBC’s dispute resolution service:

Information and Education: the VSBC provides information to businesses on their rights and obligations under relevant legislation to assist them to prevent and resolve disputes.  Information is provided by telephone, email and online.

Preliminary Assistance and Resolution: when an application for assistance with a dispute is received by the VSBC, staff will initially engage with both parties to see if the dispute can be resolved before proceeding to mediation.  Staff expertise in legislative provisions and dispute resolution can often assist in bringing the parties to a pragmatic resolution. If the dispute cannot be resolved at this stage, staff will explain the benefits of mediation to the parties and encourage them to participate, avoiding the emotion, delay, cost and distraction of litigation.

The same process does not apply for disputes under the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2011 or the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983, where the VSBC role is limited to arranging and conducting mediation.

Mediation: the timely, low cost resolution of a dispute through mediation can maintain a business relationship and let the parties quickly get back to business.  A binding Terms of Settlement between the parties brings clarity and control to resolution of the dispute.

New forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution

The VSBC also continues to explore new forms of dispute resolution, including facilitated meetings and determinations.

Facilitated Meetings

The Small Business Commission Act 2017 enables the VSBC to determine what form of ADR is most appropriate to use in dealing with a dispute.  A ‘facilitated meeting’ is a form of dispute resolution which can be used by the VSBC where a formal mediation cannot be arranged.  An example of an appropriate use of the facilitated meeting form of ADR is where a dispute involves many parties and common issues.

Determinations

A new, voluntary, Smash Repairer Code of Practice commenced operation on 1 May 2017. The Code provides for the mediation of smash repairer disputes by the VSBC.  It also enables the VSBC to determine smash repairer disputes, where mediation has failed. This is a new function for the VSBC under the Small Business Commission Act 2017.  The VSBC has agreed to run a pilot project to determine these disputes and is in the process of putting this in place, including the appointment of appropriate determiners.

Testimonials

Client testimonials

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