Disputes often arise in the workplace - there may be issues of discrimination, pay entitlements, duties of employees etc. And of course you may also have a dispute with a supplier or a customer.

There are many ways you can deal with these disputes. Depending on the dispute it will often be appropriate to sit down with the person and try and negotiate a resolution that suits both of you.

If this is not successful or not appropriate you may be able to deal with the dispute through:
- mediation; or
- arbitration.

Mediation
Mediation is a way of reaching an agreement without using courts. It is becoming increasingly popular because it is usually cheaper and quicker than using courts.

The two people (or more) who have the dispute meet together with a trained mediator. A mediator will help you to:
- focus on the issues;
- communicate effectively;
- have your say - uninterrupted; and
- find a fair solution.
- Once the mediation is underway, the mediator will help you both to:
- negotiate an outcome;
- work out priorities;
- find some common ground;
- test an agreement to check that it works; and
-make a summary of the points you agree on.

If you can reach an agreement, you then put this agreement in writing. Note, the mediation process is not a binding legal process in itself, but the agreement you have at the end is an agreement that can be enforced if necessary.

There are a number of private mediators - some are lawyers, some have skills in small business issues.

Arbitration
This is a more involved process that it similar to court proceedings but much less formal.
An arbitrator listens to both parties and considers all the evidence.
This person then makes a decision that can be enforced under the Arbitration Act

Read this: This fact sheet is intended to be general information about the law in Australia. It is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Lawscape Communications Pty Ltd, Fairfax Media Pty Ltd does not accept responsibility for loss to any person, who either acts or does not act because of this fact sheet.

Last Updated – April 2007