Commercial Mediation in Australia

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Office of Mediation Adviser: an office of conflict resolutions related to the franchise in Australia.

The Office of small business companies of the Australian Government has established the Office of Mediation Adviser (OMA) in 1998. OMA finances mediators to help franchisors and franchisees to resolve their problems without legal proceeding.

The code of the franchise depends on the "Trade Practices Act", which frames trade practices in Australia. This Code provides for free resolution of conflicts related to relations in the context of the franchise contract. The parties must first submit themselves to mediation before any further legal proceeding. The parties may choose the mediator they have selected or accept a mediator among those proposed by the OMA (at least 3 people are suggested to each party in conflict). Mediators from OMA are specialized on franchise issues and seek to promote trade issues. However, the mediator respects the neutrality, confidentiality and helps the parties find their own solutions quickly and conclude their trade agreements. The mediator appointed by OMA does not provide legal advice. The OMA provides support to the mediators in difficulty and training.

The mediation process is binding since if either party requests for mediation, the other party has to accept otherwise the "Trade Practices Act" will not be respected. In parallel, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which is an association of consumer protection and competition, is requested to investigate and take actions. If neither party wants mediation, they may resort to a legal proceeding, but the cost of the action is dissuasive.

This procedure has solved many disputes regarding franchise fees, training, technical and commercial assistance, and the supply. 75% of mediations conducted with the support of the OMA have led to lasting solutions. The cost of a mediation is shared by the parties and is usually about 1200 Australian $, slightly more than 700 €.

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