Preparing for the mediation session

Before the mediation session it is a good idea to prepare yourself by understanding what to expect on the day.

Prepare for your mediation

  1. Be prepared to attend the mediation in person, even if you will have legal or other representation with you.
  2. Prepare a short statement that outlines the key issues in dispute. Don’t get caught up in the minor issues.
  3. Think about the outcome you would like to achieve.
  4. Determine whether there are other options that you would be prepared to consider.
  5. Know your bottom line; what can you realistically afford or accept?
  6. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Disputes are rarely black or white so you will need to be objective about your claims.
  7. Consider what the other party might want from the mediation. Would you be prepared to compromise to reach an agreement?
  8. Be prepared to act in good faith during the mediation. This will require you to listen to the other party’s version of events with an open mind.

You may want to consider having a support person to attend the mediation session or be available by telephone.

You can have legal or professional representation during the mediation; however this is not a requirement. If you do have representation, make sure that they are familiar with your case and that you can afford their charge to attend.

You should bring all your supporting documentation to the mediation. If you have additional documents, other than those already provided to the SBDC, and you plan to refer to these at the mediation session, please provide copies to the SBDC mediation coordinator before your session.

If you require a translator to assist you during the mediation session you must advise the mediation coordinator or your case manager at least five business days before your booking so they can arrange for this service. A translator is provided at no cost to you.

On the day of mediation, allow at least three to four hours for the session. In some cases, mediation may take longer so factor this into your planning.

Dress in neat business attire and arrive at least 15 minutes before the session is due to begin.

What to expect from your mediation session

The mediation session may follow a format, which can change depending on the mediator and the needs of the disputing parties.

Typically the format includes:

  • Introductions - For mediations held at the SBDC offices please notify the SBDC reception desk on Level 2 of your arrival and ask them to advise the mediation coordinator. The mediation coordinator will meet you and invite you to wait in the reception area until all parties have arrived, you will then be taken to the mediation meeting room.
  • Presentations – Each mediator has a different approach but usually they will ask each party to present their case and describe the issues in their own words. The mediator will already have read the related documents and case notes. However, it is very important that each party presents their side of the story at the beginning of mediation in case the paperwork doesn’t cover all the issues involved.
  • Discussion – Once each party has spoken there will be an open discussion of all the issues raised. The mediator will help the parties to identify the key issues and consider possible outcomes.
  • Private sessions – Following open discussion the mediator may have a private session with each party to consider options and possible ways to reach agreement. It is important to remember that the mediator will help the parties to think about their options however he/she cannot provide legal advice or make any decisions; these must be made by the parties themselves. Anything discussed with the mediator during private sessions is confidential.
  • Outcomes – Everyone will meet again to finalise the mediation session, either by reaching agreement, confirming that agreement cannot be reached, or to decide that a further session is required.

If you reach agreement at mediation

If an agreement is reached, a mediation outcomes document is drafted. It is then considered and signed by all parties. This is the end of the mediation process. The parties are expected to comply with the terms of the agreement. It is important to know that the signed mediation outcomes agreement is a binding document and can be legally enforced.

If you cannot reach agreement at mediation

If an agreement is not reached, the parties may apply to an appropriate court or tribunal for a formal determination to be made.

If the dispute is related to a retail shop lease, either party may refer the matter the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). You will need to obtain a certificate from the Small Business Commissioner (available upon request) and include this with your SAT application.

Providing feedback

At the end of the mediation session you will be asked to complete a feedback form. This information is essential in helping us to improve our services.

You may also be surveyed on behalf of the State Government, which heavily subsidises our mediation service. This survey is conducted annually by an independent third party and uses a random sample of mediation participants.

If you need further assistance contact our mediation coordinator on 13 12 49.