Home News & Publications Record number of small businesses seeking help to resolve disputes

Record number of small businesses seeking help to resolve disputes

The VSBC Annual Report 2019 reveals a record 2,074 small businesses sought help in resolving their business disputes.

The main issues causing disputes were:

  1. retail leases
  2. money that wasn’t paid
  3. understanding rights and responsibilities when it comes to contracts
  4. the quality of goods and services
  5. goods and services that weren’t delivered.

More matters are being resolved early on with guidance and support (34 per cent). Of the matters that did go to mediation, parties reached agreement 82 per cent of the time.

Commissioner Judy O’Connell is pleased the VSBC has been able to support so many small businesses.

“It really does show the value of our stronger efforts to engage small businesses about their rights and responsibilities and to promote our quick, effective and low-cost dispute resolution service,” Commissioner O’Connell said.

“We’ve also strengthened our work in advocacy by rolling out our Small Business Friendly Council initiative, where we’re working with councils to provide greater supports to local businesses.”

Other proactive efforts to prevent small business disputes include:

  • a redeveloped website that’s easier to understand and navigate
  • an updated retail leases information brochure with a simple checklist on what tenants need to know
  • practical guides to help address the strain that disruption from infrastructure projects can put on local trade
  • contributions to state and national reviews in areas such as mental health and unfair contract terms
  • supporting small business owners to look after their mental health and wellbeing
  • over 80 presentations directly reaching small businesses, trusted advisors and agencies across the state.

“We also completed a review of our process for resolving disputes to enable us to deal with disputes quicker, saving small businesses time,” Commissioner O’Connell said.

Access the full report via our Corporate publications page.

For media enquiries, contact Christine Harris on 0436 698 132 or at christine.harris@vsbc.vic.gov.au.