Small business owners (including franchisees and franchisors)
What we do
The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) provides preliminary assistance to small business with disputes under the Small Business Commission Act 2017 (the Act). These disputes can be business-to-business, business-to-government, retail leasing and franchising disputes.
Some of the common disputes the VSBC can help with include:
- licensing and agency agreements
- franchise agreements
- supply contracts
- buying and selling a business
How we can help
The VSBC helps provide information to small business about their rights and responsibilities to help avoid disputes. It can also assist small business in dispute by providing dispute resolution services. These services include:
- Preliminary assistance: VSBC staff will provide information to small business on their rights and obligations to prevent or help resolve issues. This is done by email, over the phone, on the website pages or our brochures.
- Pre-mediation assistance: our staff will contact both parties, by phone, or email to help resolve the dispute.
- Low-cost mediation: we get you and the other party together with an experienced, independent mediator to confidentially discuss issues and try to reach an agreement.
Mediation with the VSBC is $195 per party, per half day session for these types of disputes. There is no cost for preliminary assistance that occurs over the phone or on email.
What happens if I don’t engage with the VSBC in a general business dispute?
The VSBC can’t compel a party to engage in our dispute resolution process – including mediation – under any Act. If a party refuses to respond to our efforts to try to resolve a dispute and we determine that this refusal is unreasonable, we can issue a certificate to that effect and publish details of that certificate in the VSBC’s Annual Report to Parliament.
This certificate can be used before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or a court.
For insight into what we deem to be ‘unreasonable refusal’, see our operational guidelines.
Thrive has developed practical, plain English guidance for franchisees and people looking to start a franchise, which includes:
- key steps in assessing the purchase of a franchise
- how to choose a franchise and risks to consider
- what to do before signing an agreement
- what happens if you change your mind
- extending a franchise agreement
- steps to take if you have a problem.
The Small Business Commission Act 2017 covers all disputes in small business.