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What is mediation and how does it work?   

Disputes are an unfortunate reality in business. They can stem from anything such as misunderstanding or miscommunication, a problematic contract, to unfair practices. And with the pressures of COVID-19 on small businesses, there is the potential for more disputes. They can be highly disruptive for all parties involved, time consuming, expensive and stressful.  



Our Mediation Services team can help businesses to work through the issues to find real solutions for all parties to avoid litigation. The team provides quick, confidential and cost-effective support to businesses so they can negotiate successful outcomes to disputes. If there is no resolution through early discussions, we can arrange formal mediation where both parties can explore their concerns and come to a mutually agreed solution.  

So what are the steps of a mediation? A typical mediation may look something like the following.

Step 1 – You’ve tried to resolve the dispute with the other party but it hasn’t worked out, or you don’t know how to approach them. You apply for a mediation online with the NSW Small Business Commission.  

Step 2 - Your matter is reviewed and acknowledged within 2 days. A triage process assigns a priority, and urgent matters are assigned a case manager straight away. Non-urgent matters are attended to within a target 7-day timeframe. The case manager will contact the parties to discuss options and expectations. Parties in many cases will be able to find their own resolution shortly after speaking with a case manager.

Step 3 – The mediation officer discusses preferred dates for mediation with both parties, and offers any further support on how best to prepare for the day. We aim to set a date that is 3 – 5 weeks from when the application is made, but this time can be made shorter, or longer, if the parties agree. Through this process, the parties will often start generating ideas for settlement, which may still happen before the agreed date. 

Step 4 - When both parties agree on a date, the officer books a mediator, arranges the meeting facilities, and sends out confirmations. Mediation fees are payable prior to the mediation day.

Step 5 – Mediator conducts mediation in accordance with the National Mediator Accreditation System standards. By the end of the mediation day, most parties will have either settled the matter, or be in a far better position to decide on their next steps.


Find out how to access mediation services.