About the process

The VSBC’s dispute resolution process centres on four key services, delivered by our experienced staff:

  • Information: If you are not sure about your rights or obligations, or need help or guidance on a dispute, we can provide you with assistance and information on the avenues available to resolve the problem.
  • Preliminary assistance: We can assist the parties over the telephone or by email to work out a solution to the issue.
  • Mediation: We bring the parties together with an experienced mediator to confidentially discuss their issues with the aim of reaching a resolution acceptable to both parties. Note that in some cases a facilitated meeting may be deemed a more appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution.
  • Outcomes: Working to solve your dispute with us helps promote an ongoing business relationship – meaning you can get on with the job of running your business. Occasionally, the VSBC may determine that another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, for example, a facilitated meeting, is the best way of progressing the matter.

What types of disputes can the VSBC help with?

The VSBC is your first port of call for all types of commercial disputes between businesses, or between business and government. The size of the dispute may range from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars.

The VSBC can help you with a dispute in the following five areas:

Resolving disputes with the VSBC

The following is a step-by-step process to guide you through the typical dispute resolution process with the VSBC.

Note: It is a general guide and the sequence of events may differ depending on your individual situation.

If you have any specific questions, refer to Frequently asked questions and Who we help.

1.

Submitting an application

Before you submit an application to the VSBC, we encourage you to try to resolve the dispute directly with the other party. Read these steps to take before making an application for assistance.

If you’re unable to resolve the dispute directly with the other party, complete a form about the dispute. You can submit the form online, email or post the form to the VSBC, along with any relevant documents, such as a copy of the lease, expert reports, correspondence and photographs.

Note: the details you provide in the application and any accompanying documents may be forwarded to the other party.

Submission of the application indicates your agreement to this.

 

 

 

2.

Handling the dispute

Upon receiving the application, the VSBC appoints a Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) to handle the dispute.

3.

Pre-mediation dispute resolution assistance

The DRO forwards the application form and any other relevant documents to the other party and seeks a response. Applicant is copied to this correspondence.

The DRO may attempt to resolve the dispute by phone or email and work through issues with the parties. If applicable, the DRO may arrange a meeting with the parties.

4.

Invitation to mediation

If preliminary assistance is not an option, or is unsuccessful, the DRO may invite the parties to attend mediation. (If you decline to attend, the VSBC may issue a certificate, but this depends on the type of the dispute.

(See Frequently Asked Questions for more on this.)

Note that in some cases a facilitated meeting may be deemed a more appropriate form of alternative dispute resolution.

5.

Confirming authority and attendance at mediation

If both parties agree to mediation, the DRO clarifies with the parties who will be the person with authority to make decisions on the day of the mediation and who else will be attending the mediation. Each party copies the other party when providing this information.

 

6.

Setting up a time and location

Upon receiving the authority and attendance information, the DRO transfers the file to the VSBC’s Mediation Services Team (MST) who arranges a date, time and location to suit both parties and their representatives.

Mediations can be arranged at the VSBC’s office in Melbourne CBD or venues throughout Regional Victoria.

If needed, an interpreter will be provided during the mediation free of charge.

7.

Appointment of Mediator

The VSBC appoints an independent mediator to help the parties communicate openly, identify options, and reach their own agreement for settlement. It is important to note that mediators are not judges, do not decide who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; do not give binding judgements; and do not give the parties legal advice.

The mediator will not hand down a decision, but rather help the parties to reach their own agreement.

8.

Confirmation of details

MST confirms mediation details with all parties by email. Links to the VSBC’s Guide to Mediation and Mediation Checklist are provided as part of the correspondence.

9.

Mediation cancellation fees

A mediation cancellation fee ($900 half day/$1350 whole day) may be charged in the event the mediation cannot proceed due to a party’s attendance without full authority or if a party cancels the mediation within five business days prior to and including the mediation date.

 

10.

On the day…

On the day of mediation, the Mediator:

  • receives mediation fees, unless paid in advance (this will be done by the MST if the mediation is held at the VSBC),
  • gets the parties to sign the Mediation Agreement and, if needed, the Confidentiality Form – parties are provided with a copy of the signed documents (this will be done by the MST if the mediation is held at the VSBC),
  • provides parties with a Client Satisfaction Survey to be completed at the end of the mediation,
  • confirms that the parties can make decisions on the day.

Please note: The Mediation Agreement and Confidentiality Form will be sent in the mail before your mediation date.

11.

Mediation

Mediation is conducted. See the VSBC’s mediation process.

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