Mediation and the Small Business Commission

By on October 4, 2017

Mediation and the Small Business Commission

Small Business Commission Act 2017

The Small Business Commission Act 2017 (the Act) establishes the Small Business Commission (the Commission) to enhance a competitive and fair operating environment for small business in
Victoria. The Commission is constituted by the Small Business Commissioner, as head of the Commission. The Act also repeals and re-enacts with amendments the Small Business Commissioner Act 2003.

The Act came into effect on 1 July 2017.

What are the key changes?

As well as establishing the Commission, the Act introduces additional functions and powers to enable the Commission to:
• resolve disputes between businesses and a broader range of organisations, including professional associations, educational institutions, industry bodies and certain special bodies within government
• review proposed legislation in terms of its potential to adversely affect small business
• work with similar small business commissioners in other States, Territories, or similar Commonwealth Agencies, to enhance conditions for small businesses
• advise or comment on the development of legislation and regulatory policy relating to small business and related matters.
• The Commission will continue to provide its full range of existing functions, including its effective and low cost mediation services and its education and information function to assist small business to minimise disputes.

A major role for the Small Business Commission is low cost mediation. The following are reasons to participate in mediation taken from the Victorian Small Business Commission’s website:
It is effective. Around 30% of disputes are resolved through preliminary assistance over the phone or email. Of the disputes that proceed to mediation, around 80% reach a resolution.

It is empowering. By being engaged in the process, the parties are in control of the outcome. The solutions are flexible, creative and business driven.
It is affordable. Mediation is low cost when compared to preparing for and attending litigation.
It is efficient. Mediation is a speedy solution that won’t disrupt your business. Most mediation sessions take around3 to 4 hours.
It is informal, but structured. Mediations are conducted in a meeting room with the parties seated around a table. You do not need legal representation (although you can have a lawyer present, if you wish).
It is less stressful. Mediation is a less stressful alternative to litigation. Coming together in mediation enhances the likelihood of continuing the business relationship.
It is confidential. The discussions that occur during the mediation cannot be used by the parties in any other legal proceedings. Litigation, on the other hand, results in a public record.
It is voluntary. You don’t need to attend to a mediation request. However, if you receive a letter from the VSBC, you must respond to it within the stated timeframe. If you refuse to engage with the VSBC, a certificate may be issued. The implications of a certificate vary according to the type of dispute.

Further Information
For further information about the VSBC:
Phone: 13 VSBC (13 8722)

About Gavin Moreira

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