5 Ways to Resolve a Dispute (Out of Court)
There are a lot of free services providing ways to resolve a dispute out of court.
If you have a dispute with a business is a certain industry, there is often an ombudsman who will help resolve the dispute for free:
- aged care
- banking and insurance
- energy and water
If you have a consumer complaint, your State will have a Consumer Affairs body with a dispute resolution service.
If you run a small business, your State business commissioner often has a dispute resolution service. There is also the Small and Family Business Ombudsman.
Utilise any free services that you can.
You can negotiate yourself, or you can hire someone like a lawyer to help you to negotiate.
You need to determine what you really want, and what your next best result would be, and then the result that you’ll accept and live with but not love.
Start the process of putting your offer to the other party, and they are likely to counter-offer.
You will go backwards and forwards with offers, hopefully narrowing the issues, or coming up with creative solutions, until you come to something that you can both agree on.
Then sign some form of settlement agreement.
Conciliation is process where an independent third person that you both agree on helps you to resolve your dispute. It is usually a person with technical experience and knowledge in the specific area that you’ve got the dispute over.
A conciliator will usually not make a decision or judgement about the dispute, but will provide their advice and technical guidance. They will not take sides.
This can be a voluntary process, or it could be the dispute resolution process built into a contract.
An arbitration also involves an independent third person who is appointed. They are usually appointed by a dispute resolution body, like an industry association or regulator.
An arbitrator will usually have a technical background as well, and you will submit your case to the arbitrator who will make a decision about the dispute.
If you’re not happy with the arbitrator’s decision, there is limited circumstances where you can appeal to a court.
A mediation is closer to a conciliation, but a mediator is usually a professionally trained mediator to help resolve disputes, and not got any technical knowledge in your particular area of dispute.