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Business Dispute Resolution in Australia

Disputes can be a regular occurrence in today’s business environment. Whether it involves internal parties such as employees, or external parties such as suppliers and customers, disputes can be damaging for everybody involved. From an employer’s perspective, disputes can be detrimental on organisation’s reputation and can create significant costs in legal fees, lost productivity, lost income, recruitment, and workers compensation. As such, when disputes arise, it’s in the interests of the company and the individual/s involved that the dispute is resolved efficiently and fairly.

When a dispute arises, litigation may often be unsatisfactory for one or both parties involved and it is frequently more rewarding to resolve disputes privately. In Australia, if parties have not been able to resolve a dispute, there are a range of methods that can be pursued without relying on the courts. These alternative dispute resolutions are generally voluntary, however can be mandated through a contract, code of practice or set of rules. These procedures include:


Arbitration is a formal dispute resolution process in which two or more parties refer their dispute to an independent entity (the arbitrator) for determination. The parties then present their arguments and evidence to the arbitrator and then he or she makes a determination. The decision of the arbitrator is enforceable in the same way as a court judgment. In Australian commercial disputes, arbitration is normally grounded in legislation of the different states, for example, in New South Wales it is grounded in the Commercial Arbitration Act 1984 (NSW) and reflects similar laws in the other states and territories. Quinn Lawyers can help you to choose a suitable resolution method based on your circumstances and we can help in the selection and appointment of arbitrators.


Mediation is a confidential process in which the participants seek the assistance of an independent entity in negotiating a decision about the dispute. The mediator does not provide a binding determination, instead relies on experience with past disputes, technical expertise and facilitation skills in helping the disputants to explore the issues and ideally reach the best joint decision that is achievable in the circumstances.

Quinn Lawyers can help you decide if mediation is suitable for your case as well as describing the entire process of mediation to you. We can also contact and negotiate with the other side for you and assist you to draft a settlement agreement. It is also important to know that the parties are ultimately the ones that come up with a solution to the dispute and the mediator does not impose a solution upon the parties.


Conciliation is a process through which a conciliator (a neutral entity) assists parties to a dispute to identify the basis and extent of their disagreement, develop options, consider alternatives and attempt to reach an agreement. The conciliator does not have a determinative role. The conciliator may advise on or determine the process of conciliation whereby resolution is attempted. The conciliator may also suggest terms of settlement, offer expert advice on settlement terms and may actively encourage the disputants to reach agreement.


Negotiation can be an extremely useful tool that doesn’t necessarily need lawyers or third parties in order to be successful. However lawyers can be very useful especially when dealing with the other side’s lawyer and the ability to be impartial about the issue.

State fair trading agencies and the Small Claims Tribunal

There are times where disputes can carry on and remain unresolved due to complex situations. In such circumstances, traders and consumers can refer to the fair trading agency. Each state has a fair trading agency to provide information to traders and consumers to help resolve marketplace disputes. If parties are unable to reach agreement, you may be entitled to lodge a complaint with an agency in your respective state. They can provide a range of services, such as acting as an informal negotiator. When a dispute is unable to be resolved, it is important to seek legal advice, as some disputes may require the party to lodge a claim with a relevant tribunal such as the Small Claims Tribunal.

What Can We Do?

Contact us to organise a consultation. Our dedicated legal team will deal with your problem in a sympathetic, time efficient and cost effective manner. Send an online enquiry or call us on +61 2 9223 9166.

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The Quinn Group operates Quinn Consultants, Quinn Lawyers, Quinn Financial Planning and Quinn Financial Solutions. The Quinn Group provides related information in regard to legal, accounting and financial planning issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation* *other than for the acts or omissions of financial services licensees.