Dispute Resolution Services
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
We provide information and assistance to small businesses and family enterprises, including referral to dispute resolution services.
We are able to assist with business-to-business and business-to-government disputes. We provide initial and pre-mediation assistance, as well as information on the phases of dispute resolution and tips for avoiding disputes.
We have developed an online dispute resolution referral tool, Dispute Support, to help small businesses to find the most appropriate low cost dispute resolution tool for their disputes
Contact the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman:
p: 1300 650 460
Australian Taxation Office
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) aims to resolve disputes as early as possible, including during the audit and objection stages. In addition to direct negotiation and settlement, the ATO offers in-house facilitation, as well as mediation, conciliation and early neutral evaluation with an independent third party to provide assistance in resolving a dispute.
Facilitation is designed to assist you and the ATO to resolve tax issues with the assistance of a trained, impartial and independent ATO facilitator who has not been involved in the dispute. Facilitation may reduce the cost and time it takes to resolve a dispute.
Contact the ATO:
The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints about the administrative actions of Australian Government departments and agencies.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman aims to resolve complaints impartially, informally and quickly, through consultation and negotiation, and if necessary, by making formal recommendations to the most senior levels of government.
As a general rule, the Commonwealth Ombudsman will not, and in some cases cannot, investigate complaints until they have been raised directly with the agency involved.
Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman:
p: 1300 362 072
Please note, the Commonwealth Ombudsman is not responsible for complaints about:
telecommunications − Telecommunications industry Ombudsman www.tio.com.au
banking/financial services − Financial Ombudsman Service www.fos.org.au
media − Australian Communications and Media Authority www.acma.gov.au
working conditions or pay − Fair Work Ombudsman www.fairwork.gov.au
energy and water services − state based.
The Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission are the two key organisations in Australia’s workplace relations system. Each has a different role within this system. If you are unsure which is the most appropriate organisation to assist with your dispute, you can contact them on the details below.
Note – Western Australia is not part of the national system. Contact the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission if your business is in Western Australia (1800 624 263 and www.wairc.wa.gov.au).
The Fair Work Ombudsman has developed the Best Practice Guide: Effective Dispute Resolution. View the guide online or download it here.
Fair Work Ombudsman
The Fair Work Ombudsman educates people about workplace rights and obligations, investigates breaches of workplace rights and enforces workplace laws.
The Fair Work Ombudsman provides information, advice and help about correct pay, conditions (such as annual leave or sick pay) and workplace rights.
Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman:
p: 13 13 94
Fair Work Commission
The Fair Work Commission is the national workplace relations tribunal. It makes decisions about the national minimum wage and can create and change modern awards.
The Fair Work Commission hears workplace relation matters and makes decisions about many workplace matters, including unfair dismissal, industrial action, equal pay, right of entry and enterprise bargaining.
Contact the Fair Work Commission:
p: 1300 799 675
The Franchising Code of Conduct (the Franchising Code) is a mandatory industry code of conduct that has the force of law under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The Franchising Code provides a cost-effective dispute resolution scheme for franchisees and franchisors through the Office of the Franchising Mediation Adviser (OFMA).
OFMA appoints mediators to assist franchisors and franchisees to resolve their problems without going to court. OFMA has a specialist panel of franchise dispute mediators in each state and territory in Australia.
Additionally, OFMA operates a free early intervention dispute resolution service to help parties, at an early stage, to maintain positive commercial relationships and enhance the operating efficiencies of the franchising sector.
p: 1800 150 667
Financial Services Industry
There are two industry ombudsman services available for resolving disputes with financial service providers; Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO).
The ombudsman services offer free dispute resolution services for issues which arise with their member financial service providers, for example disputes about banking, credit, insurance, financial planning, investment, and managed funds.
The website for each Ombudsman provides a search function to find out if your financial service provider is a member of their organisation.
p: 1800 367 287
p: 1800 138 422
The Horticulture Code of Conduct (the Horticulture Code) is a mandatory industry code of conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The purpose of the Horticulture Code is to improve the clarity and transparency of transactions between growers and wholesalers of fresh fruit and vegetables. It also provides a fair and equitable dispute resolution procedure.
The Horticulture Mediation Adviser provides mediation services under the Horticulture Code. The mediation adviser's role is to help parties resolve disputes and, on request, appoint mediators from a specialist panel of experienced mediators across Australia. The mediator's fees are paid by the Australian Government.
Additionally, the Horticulture Mediation Adviser operates a free early intervention dispute resolution service to help parties, at an early stage, to maintain positive commercial relationships and enhance the operating efficiencies of the horticulture sector.
Contact the Horticulture Mediation Adviser:
p: 1800 475 467
Motor Vehicle Smash Repair
The Motor Vehicle Insurance and Repair Industry Code of Conduct is a voluntary national code of conduct that applies to smash repairers and insurance companies that subscribe to it.
This Code is intended to promote transparent, informed, effective and co-operative relationships between smash repairers and insurance companies based on mutual respect and open communication.
The Code provides two stages of dispute resolution. Disputes in the first instance should be raised under the insurer’s Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process. Should a dispute not be resolved through IDR the Code provides an External Dispute Resolution (EDR) process. To initiate EDR a notice of dispute form must be completed.
Further information on the dispute resolution process is available on their website.
Petroleum Retail Industry
The Oilcode is an industry code of conduct under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The purpose of the Oilcode is to regulate the conduct of suppliers, distributors, and retailers who are involved in the sale, supply or purchase of declared petroleum products.
The Oilcode Dispute Resolution Adviser assists to resolve disputes between distributors, wholesalers or retailers about the supply of motor fuel in Australia.
The Dispute Resolution Adviser has established a national panel of mediators who are available to assist. Parties are still free to commence their own legal action at any time but following the Code's dispute resolution process is expected to result in quicker and less costly dispute resolution.
Contact the Oilcode Dispute Resolution Adviser:
p: 1800 239 487
Accredited Mediators and Alternative Dispute Resolvers
The ADR website provides a directory of qualified and accredited Alternative Dispute Resolution practitioners.
Australian Dispute Resolution Association (ADRA)
The Australian Dispute Resolution Association promotes alternative dispute resolution throughout Australia by providing information, education and training.
Australian Mediation Association (AMA)
The Australian Mediation Association provides private mediation services, consulting services, and education in mediation, communication and negotiation, to help businesses and individuals avoid disputes through planning and to resolve disputes through mediation.
The AMA can assist in a range of disputes including commercial, business and workplace disputes.
The Resolution Institute facilitates a range of dispute resolution methods including arbitration, mediation, conciliation and adjudication. They have a panel of skilled and experienced dispute resolvers covering many commercial areas and professional disciplines.
Produce and Grocery
The Produce and Grocery Code of Conduct (the Grocery Code) is a voluntary code to guide business conduct.
The objectives of the Grocery Code are to promote fair and equitable trading practices amongst industry participants, encourage fair play and open communication to avoid disputes, and to provide a simple, accessible and non-legalistic dispute resolution mechanism in the event of a dispute.
The Produce and Grocery Industry Ombudsman (PGIO) has been set up by industry to resolve disputes about supply of produce to markets and retailers. The PGIO can provide guidance, and if the problem cannot be resolved by the parties in the dispute, then the PGIO will appoint a mediator to conduct mediation.
p: 1800 206 385
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business and residential consumers in Australia, with unresolved complaints about their telephone or internet services.
p: 1800 062 058
The Wine Industry Code of Conduct is a voluntary code which aims to set minimum standards for agreements between winegrape growers and winegrape purchasers. It provides an impartial, cost effective dispute resolution system to manage disputes which arise over price or quality assessments.
There is a seven step dispute resolution process for disputes about price and disputes about downgrades and rejections. A copy of the process is available on the Wine Industry Code of Conduct website.
Contact the Code Secretariat:
p: 02 9264 9506
Australian Capital Territory
ACT Conflict Resolution Services
The ACT Conflict Resolution Services (CRS) aims to provide professional, accessible and effective dispute resolution and training services to the ACT community to resolve disputes peacefully. The CRS may be able to assist with workplace and small business disputes, including debt and finances, customer complaints and business-to-business issues.
The CRS offers a free dispute assessment service to give advice and referral about disputes. It also supplies mediation services to conflicting parties at a convenient time and place.
p: (02) 6162 4050
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court provide dispute resolution services for civil matters, for example non-payment and debt. Small claims of up to $10,000 are heard by ACAT, claims between $10,000 and $250,000 are dealt with in the Magistrates Court and matters over $250,000 are heard in the Supreme Court.
ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (under $10,000)
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) hears and resolves a wide range of civil disputes and small claims of up to $10,000. The ACAT will also hear requests to review administrative decisions and professional and occupational disciplinary matters.
The ACAT encourages disputing parties to consider alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, for an affordable and timely solution. If an agreement is not reached, the dispute will then move on to a hearing, where the Tribunal will make a decision that is binding to both parties.
p: (02) 6207 1740
ACT Magistrates Court ($10,000 to $250,000)
The ACT Magistrates Court hears civil disputes (including commercial and retail lease disputes) between $10,000 and $250,000. The Magistrates Court may look to alternative dispute resolution to resolve the dispute.
If an agreement cannot be reached, a hearing will then be held. If one of the parties does not agree with the hearing’s outcome, the dispute may then be referred to or appealed in the Supreme Court.
Contact the Magistrates Court:
p: 02 6207 1709
ACT Supreme Court (over $250,000)
The ACT Supreme court hears civil disputes over $250,000. For disputes of this value it is highly recommended that you seek independent legal advice.
Contact the Supreme Court:
p: 02 6207 1709
Building and Construction
In the ACT, there is a security of payment law which ensures that a person undertaking construction work in the state is entitled to receive, and is able to recover, progress payments for work they carry out under a written or oral construction contract, including the supply of good and services.
Under the law there is an informal, inexpensive and quick adjudication process to recover payment.
If there is a dispute about payment, you can apply for adjudication to assist you to resolve your dispute by contacting an Authorised Nominating Authority (ANA). Find a registered ANA in the Australian Capital Territory.
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) considers applications relating to complaints about the supply of energy and water by the utilities that are licensed to operate in the ACT. Specifically, ACAT considers complaints about hardship caused or likely caused by the electricity, gas or water supply being disconnected, and misconduct or poor service by a utility.
Before contacting ACAT you should attempt to resolve your issue directly with your energy or water provider.
p: (02) 6207 7740
The Office of Regulatory Services assists and protects businesses and the community through the administration of fair trading laws. The Office of Regulatory Services educates businesses so they are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law.
The Office of Regulatory Services investigates breaches of fair trading laws, the safety of goods, and takes compliance action where appropriate.
Contact the Office of Regulatory Services:
p: 02 6207 3000
The ACT Ombudsman investigates complaints about the administrative actions of ACT Government agencies and public education providers.
The ACT Ombudsman aims to resolve complaints impartially, informally and quickly, through consultation and negotiation, and if necessary, by making formal recommendations to the most senior levels of government.
The services of the ACT Ombudsman are provided by the Commonwealth Ombudsman under agreement between the ACT and Commonwealth Governments.
Contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman:
p: 1300 362 072
The Magistrates Court has jurisdiction for commercial and retail lease disputes in the ACT.
The ACT Leases Commercial and Retail Handbook provides information for retail tenants and landlords on retail leasing and dispute resolution, including rent payment and reviews, and rights and obligations.
Contact the Magistrates Court:
p: 02 6207 1709
If you require further assistance, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Information Line can provide information and assistance, including helping you to identify the most appropriate service to resolve your dispute. You can contact the Information Line on 1300 650 460.