The Small Business Specialists
Phone: 13 12 49
The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) Alternative Dispute Resolution service provides a low cost, non-litigious means of resolving business-to-business and business-to government disputes in Western Australia.
Business disputes can be harmful to a small business and time spent on lengthy court cases can be disruptive and costly.
Through a simple process of advice, guidance and mediation where appropriate, the Alternative Dispute Resolution service provides hands on, timely assistance to help small business owners resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively.
The service will be particularly effective in dealing with retail tenancy matters as the SBDC is now the first port of call for businesses experiencing disputes of this kind.
Some retail tenancy disputes will still be directed to the State Administrative Tribunal for a hearing however, a certificate from the SBDC is required for this to take place.
The Small Business and Retail Shop Legislation Amendment Act 2011, which became operational on 26 March 2012, establishes a Small Business Commissioner in Western Australia to enhance a competitive and fair operating environment for small businesses and to provide alternative dispute resolution services for small business disputes.
The Commissioner will assist small business operators to resolve complaints and disputes related to retail tenancies, the unfair market practices of other businesses and the commercial activities of government bodies.
The primary role of the Alternative Dispute Resolution service is to resolve business disputes without going to court.
At the SBDC, we understand small business and have developed a service that best meets the need of small business operators.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution service is an easy process to access and to navigate. We want to help you get back to business quicker, with business relationships still intact, and without costly legal fees.
The service occurs in two stages, Guided Resolution and Mediation.
Guided Resolution commences with information, advice and guidance provided by the SBDC to assist clients in understanding their rights and obligations, clarifying the disputed issues and identifying options.
Accessing guided resolution is as easy as contacting the SBDC in person, by telephone or by email. An experienced case manager will be appointed to consider the case, contact the parties and through these discussions, seek to resolve the dispute.
Case managers will not provide legal advice or legal representation in any dispute.
The guided resolution stage is free of charge and all enquiries will be responded to quickly.
If agreement is not reached through guided resolution, or if guided resolution is not appropriate for the dispute, parties can proceed to mediation. Mediation is only available when both parties agree to participate.
Mediation offers a more structured negotiation process in which an independent mediator assists both parties to reach an agreement.
The Small Business Commissioner will appoint an experienced mediator to facilitate the mediation, and a fee of $125 per party applies for each mediation session. This subsidised fee covers the cost of one mediation session with the balance of the cost of mediation met by the Government of Western Australia. For most disputes, it is anticipated that a mutually agreed outcome will be achieved within one mediation session.
Mediations are arranged according to availability of resources, with urgent matters scheduled as soon as practicable.
Under the Commercial Tenancy (Retail Shops) Agreements Act 1985 any business involved in a retail shop lease dispute can request assistance from the Small Business Commissioner to resolve the dispute.
In most cases, parties will succeed in settling disputes through the Alternative Dispute Resolution service. In the event the dispute is not settled and it is necessary to proceed to the State Administrative Tribunal for a binding decision, a certificate from the Small Business Commissioner is required.
Matters requiring injunctive relief, approvals or administrative matters will continue to proceed directly to the State Administrative Tribunal without requiring a certificate from the Commissioner.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution service is provided through guided resolution and mediation.
It assists small business operators to resolve business-to-business and business-to government disputes as well as those related retail tenancies and unfair market practices affecting small business.
The Small Business Commissioner also provides information, education, guidance and assistance to enhance a competitive and fair operating environment for small business operators and to minimise disputes.