Local small businesses and government will now operate on a more level playing field with Victoria’s Small Business Commissioner receiving enhanced authority to assist small businesses resolve their disputes with government bodies.
Under new laws recently put in place by the Victorian Government, the Commissioner’s jurisdiction has been extended to resolve disputes between small businesses and local councils, state government departments and agencies as well as more broadly covering commercial dealings, not just unfair market practices.
This means that the Commissioner will now be able to provide a broader range of alternative dispute resolution services to local small businesses such as conciliation, assisted negotiation and facilitated meetings, in addition to the existing mediation functions already in place. This will reduce the burdens on small business of often lengthy and costly resolutions undertaken in the civil justice system.
Under these new laws the Commissioner can also place information on the public record, such as naming in the Annual Report, those businesses or government agencies that unreasonably refuse to take part in alternative dispute resolution.
Small businesses make a major contribution to Victoria, accounting for 96 per cent of all businesses and 47 per cent of private sector jobs. By providing more avenues for more small businesses to successfully resolve what can often be enormously disruptive disputes, the Government continues to work to improve the environment for small businesses in our state.