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17 August 2020

Majority of small business disputes resolved at mediation or prior

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell says the majority of small business disputes dealt with by her office are resolved at mediation or before.

Releasing a short video today outlining the benefits of mediation and ASBFEO’s free dispute resolution support services, Ms Carnell says small businesses should only consider taking legal action as a last resort.

“We want to keep small businesses out of the courts, where let’s face it, the only winners are lawyers,” Ms Carnell says.

“Since my office opened four years ago, we have provided free assistance to more than 20,000 small businesses nation-wide. Two-out-three of those disputes were successfully resolved at mediation or prior to that through contact with our assistance team.

“Our assistance team can often help the small business resolve their dispute without any need for mediation.

“But when a dispute is referred to mediation, it is faster and far more cost-effective than seeking a resolution through the courts.

“We know small and family businesses that get swept up in legal proceedings can spend thousands of dollars seeking a resolution and are often left feeling the process was a waste of time and money.

“Even if the small business has $100,000 owing – which is a huge amount for them – that can be eaten up quite quickly by legal fees and may take a long time to get a resolution.

The ASBFEO assistance team can help small businesses with a range of issues including everything from intellectual property, disputes with the ATO and payment disputes.

We can also provide assistance with disputes that fall under a number of industry Codes including Franchising, Dairy, Horticulture and Oil.

“At the end of the day, we want to help small businesses resolve a dispute as quickly as possible so they can get on with what they do best – running their business,” Ms Carnell says.

Small businesses that need help with resolving a dispute can visit www.asbfeo.gov.au or call the hotline 1300 650 460.