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Mediation FAQs

Answers to common questions about mediation.

  • How much does mediation cost?

    It costs nothing for you to apply for mediation with the NSW Small Business Commission, and there are no costs for speaking to our office. If a mediator is appointed and a date agreed, each party will be asked to pay a share of the cost. Current costs are available online at

  • Do I need a lawyer?

    Although lawyers are not required in the mediation process, their support can be helpful. Obtaining legal advice is often recommended. You will know in advance whether the other party is represented by a lawyer.

  • Who can appoint a mediator?

    The Registrar of Retail Tenancy Disputes (sitting within the NSW Small Business Commission) is the only person in NSW who can appoint a mediator for a retail tenancy matter. For other types of disputes, the parties can agree to use our mediators or seek out private mediators. If a dispute has already gone to court, the judge may appoint a mediator.

  • Can I use an interpreter?

    As a NSW Government service, the NSW Small Business Commission will provide qualified interpreters at no cost. Parties can also engage their own support teams.

  • Will the mediator make me give up my rights, or cut my claim in half?

    No. If a settlement is possible in your dispute, the mediator will help you find it as quickly as possible. If no agreement can be reached, you will also know this at an early stage, and can pursue your rights in full as normal.

  • Can mediation ever be compulsory?

    Yes. Mediation may be required under the Retail Leases Act 1994 (or other legislation). It can also be compulsory due to a court order or direction, or as part of a contractual agreement.

  • Is a mediation agreement binding?

    Yes. Just like any agreement, both parties are bound by the promises they make. It is best to have a written record, and in many cases, parties will record their obligations in a deed. Both parties may also agree to a ‘mutual release’, in which they commit not to take any further legal action.

  • What happens if someone doesn’t keep their side of an agreement?

    The agreement can be enforced, just like any other agreement, by going to court if one party doesn’t comply. But remember that compliance is much more likely following mediation, since the parties have already used a mediator to help them agree on terms.

  • Is the NSW Small Business Commission my only mediation option?

    For retail lease matters you must have a mediator appointed by the Registrar of Retail Tenancy Disputes (which sits within the NSW Small Business Commission). For other matters, you may be able to choose a private organisation or individual mediator, but you can still contact our office for further advice.

  • Do your Mediation Officers provide legal advice?

    Mediation Officers will offer procedural advice and strategic guidance to both parties equally and without favour. In NSW, only legal practitioners – who are obliged to act only in the interests of their client – can provide legal advice.

  • What if I’m based in a regional area?

    Anyone anywhere in NSW can access our services.

  • Does the other party also need to file for mediation?

    No. Only one party needs to apply, and a Mediation Officer will contact all other participants.

  • Can I withdraw an application for mediation?

    Yes. It is common for the matter to be resolved prior to the formal appointment of a mediator. Our process is designed to give the parties every chance to settle as early as possible.

  • Where will the mediation be conducted, and do I need to attend in person?

    For lease matters the NSW Small Business Commission will offer to conduct the mediation in a suitable location that is close to the premises in dispute. We can support online and hybrid attendance (in person and by video). This is negotiated with the parties after you submit an application to us.

  • Should I bring a lawyer – and what if I don’t but the other party does?

    Obtaining legal advice is recommended in most cases. Lawyers represent clients in about half of the matters we run. The parties can agree in advance to try the process without lawyers present.

  • Can I bring a support person?

    Yes, but they will need to sign a mediation confidentiality agreement.

  • How long will the mediation session last?

    A mediator will usually need three to five hours to run the process, although complex matters may take longer. Time extensions or subsequent sessions are usually discussed after four hours. The parties may also need to adjourn so they can obtain further information or advice before continuing.