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How does mediation work?

Resolving small business disputes

The Commission offers a cost-effective mediation service to help solve many types of business disputes without the high cost and delays inherent in going to court. 

What is mediation?

Mediation is a confidential and cost-effective way to resolve a disagreement that you can’t resolve by yourself.

Mediation helps parties to a dispute find settlement options that they can both accept, without having to go to court. Mediation involves a neutral third-party (the mediator) holding a meeting with the main parties to the dispute. The mediator will speak to the parties privately, as well as altogether, to help them explore all available options and try to find the best one that will work for all.

Mediation can be done in-person or online. 

Why would I choose mediation to resolve my dispute?  Link directly to Why would I choose mediation to resolve my dispute? 

Mediation is a cost-effective and often faster way to solve any dispute, compared with going to court.

The mediation process focuses on helping the parties communicate effectively and find a solution that is acceptable to both.

Mediation is confidential, and anything said at mediation can generally not be used in court.

Mediation can usually be organised quickly, allowing you to get back to doing other important things.
In certain situations, like retail lease disputes, mediation may be required before you can take the matter to a court or tribunal.

Of all the mediation matters filed with us, about 90 per cent are resolved before the need for a court or tribunal to decide the matter.
 

What type of disputes can you mediate? Link directly to What type of disputes can you mediate?

Mediation is suitable for most types of business disputes, including:

  • disputes between lessors (property owners, or landlords) and lessees (tenants) of shops, restaurants, offices, and industrial or commercial premises
  • lease, license or contract disputes between small businesses and Government agencies or local government
  • disagreements between contractors and subcontractors
  • franchise disputes
     

How much does mediation cost? Link directly to How much does mediation cost?

The Commission’s mediation service is subsidised by the NSW Government and more cost-effective than going to court. There is no application or filing fee and no charge to speak to a Mediation Officer for strategic or procedural advice. Many matters will resolve before any formal process begins, which minimises costs.

The cost of formal mediation is $608 for up to 4 hours, per party. Additional fees (at $152 per hour) may be payable after 4 hours. These costs include GST.

If any party needs an interpreter at the mediation, we will arrange one at no cost to the parties, upon request.

For more information on costs, contact us

How do I start the mediation process? Link directly to How do I start the mediation process?

The first step is to file a mediation application, telling us who you are, who the other party is, a little bit about the dispute, and attach the relevant lease, contract or other documents.

A Mediation Officer will be assigned. Priority can be given to urgent matters.

The Mediation Officer will contact you and the other party to answer any questions you have about mediation and help you decide the best strategic approach to resolution.

When formal mediation is required, a mediator will be appointed and a date for mediation will be offered, usually with 3 to 5 weeks’ notice. However, the parties can agree to book an earlier or later date. The Mediation Officer will help to make the necessary adjustments to the timing and process to ensure the best possible outcomes can be achieved for everyone involved.
 

What happens during mediation? Link directly to What happens during mediation?

The mediator helps the parties to understand the different perspectives in the dispute, and what is at stake.

The parties will develop a better understanding of what might happen if the matter goes to court and be able to compare potential options for settlement.

In most cases, settlement options can be found that will be better than going to court.
See A Guide to Your Mediation on what to expect before, during and after mediation. You can also read a Case Study of how one small business successfully negotiated a rent reduction through mediation.

Are the mediators independent?

Our mediators are accredited professionals, independent and impartial. 

The mediator conducts mediation in accordance with the National Mediator Accreditation System standards.
 

My dispute is not over a retail lease. Why would I choose the Commission? Link directly to My dispute is not over a retail lease. Why would I choose the Commission?

The Commission’s panel of mediators is highly experienced in retail lease disputes, general commercial lease disputes, and other business contract disputes. 

The Mediation Services team was named Australian Disputes Centre’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Group of the Year 2019.

Where can I get more information about mediation or advice on my dispute? Link directly to Where can I get more information about mediation or advice on my dispute?

Where can I make an application for mediation? Link directly to Where can I make an application for mediation?

If you are ready to apply for mediation, you can download and complete a mediation application. There is no application or filing fee.
 

More information

If fees become payable, you may be eligible for a rebate. For more information about the small business rebate scheme, visit Service NSW's Apply for the small business fees and charges rebate page.