A Starting Point for Dispute Resolution during COVID-19
Many Australian courts and tribunals have faced modified operation procedures, delays, and even closures due to COVID-19. In this setting, mediation has been placed as an important arms of dispute resolution. With COVID-19 adding stressors on businesses, disputes are arising more often. Disputes can arise from a range of matters, including debt recovery, commercial leasing, and partnership or franchising disputes. While many businesses first try to resolve the dispute with the party involved, what happens when a solution doesn’t result? Rather than having a lingering issue damage your business and relationships, mediation can provide an opportunity to find a mutually beneficial solution.
For individuals, small businesses, and medium businesses, the general process for arranging mediation is as follows:
- In most circumstances, you will first seek a private mediator. You can find mediators through Law Society NSW or searching for registered mediators online.
- Different mediators and accredited mediation organisations will follow different processes. Ask them to walk you through their process.
- You will organise your documents and gather any necessary information, and assess what outcome you are looking for.
- You should also find out if your mediator allows you to bring somebody with you, such as a legal representative. If they don’t, you may wish to seek legal advice before proceeding with mediation.
The NSW Small Business Commission also helps support mediation for small businesses.
When Mediation Doesn’t Suffice
Sometimes, mediation doesn’t result in the outcome that you were hoping for. In these circumstances, a litigation may be the best course of action. While the purpose of mediation is often to avoid court proceedings, the reality is that mediation may not always be plausible, nor does it always produce a resolution. Even if mediation was successful in producing dispute resolution, you may wish to seek court enforcement of the agreement.