Video conferencing makes it easier for small businesses to resolve disputes

The Victorian Small Business Commissioner Judy O’Connell has launched new video conferencing facilities to provide all Victorian small businesses with greater access to dispute resolution services.

The Victorian Small Business Commission launched its first video conference mediation this week, with one of the mediation parties located in Brisbane, while the mediator, legal representative and the applicant sat in a VSBC conference room.

A recent survey by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman found 22 per cent of small businesses have had a dispute in the last five years, which for Victoria extrapolates to 132,000 small businesses.

In the last financial year, the VSBC received 1,700 dispute applications; 520 of which went to mediation, with a success rate of 80 per cent.   The VSBC dispute resolution service is available for any small business that has a commercial dispute with another business or government agency and have it mediated for $195 per party.

“There are a lot of small business owners who are currently not using our services and we are hoping video conferencing facilities will allow more small business to attend a mediation session without having to leave their home or office,” said O’Connell. “Video conferencing will not replace face-to-face mediation however it will offer an alternative to small business owners where the time and cost of travelling to the mediation is too high. Using this technology will enhance our dispute resolution services”.

Mediator Jonathan Kaplan said, “The mediation technology worked well, and it is more effective than a telephone conference, as it is important for all the parties to be able to see one another”.

The VSBC is an independent government agency which advocates on issues that affect small business, educates small business about their rights and responsibilities, and helps them to avoid or resolve any disputes.

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