Mediations are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator.

The mediator does not make a decision in the case. Their role is to help you and the other partyDefinitionA person or organisation directly involved in a VCAT case, including a person or organisation that has brought the case before VCAT or who is defending claims made against them. to agree on a fair resolution at the mediationDefinitionMediations are confidential meetings where parties discuss ways to resolve their dispute, with the help of an impartial mediator. instead of VCAT deciding the case for you at a hearingDefinitionThe time and place at which VCAT hears the parties argue their case and makes a decision. .

The mediator may be:

  • a VCAT memberDefinitionA person who hears and decides cases at VCAT. Some members are specialists in particular areas of law. or an accredited mediator appointed by VCAT
  • an accredited mediator from the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria if your dispute about goods and services ($500 to $15,000) is suitable for our fast track resolution service.

Prepare for your mediation

Read the notice or orders you receive from us carefully.

Prepare to explain the details of your dispute, what you are claiming or saying in response to the claim, and how you think the dispute could be resolved. Consider the other party's point of view and come to the mediation with an open mind.

What to bring to the mediation

Bring all documents that support your case. Evidence is not presented at the mediation but you may want to refer to your documents, and you will need the evidence if the dispute goes to a hearing after mediation. Learn more about preparing evidence.

What not to bring to the mediation

For safety reasons, you cannot bring:

  • weapons and any other items that could be used as a weapon
  • any sharp items (e.g. manicure sets, table knives, forks and scissors)
  • harmful substances and chemicals
  • glass bottles and any other glass objects
  • tools (e.g. stanley knives, box cutters)

You will be searched and scanned by security when you enter.

Authority to settle at a mediation

To take part in a mediation, you need personal knowledge of the issues in dispute and the authority to settle. If you are representing a company, club, government body, group or another person, you need to bring written authority signed by an authorised person to enter into a legal agreement for them.

For more information, see Can someone represent me?

Who can come with you

You can bring someone along to your mediation for support. This support personDefinitionIn cases about medical treatment and advance care directives, this is someone who represents another person’s interests about medical treatment. They support a person to make, communicate and help bring about the person’s medical treatment decisions. could be anyone you choose, including a friend or family member. They cannot speak on your behalf.

At the mediation

Mediations can take anywhere from an hour to a full day. We tell you how much time is set for your mediation in the notice or orders. The notice also tells you how early you must arrive before your hearing. Plan to arrive on time and to be at VCAT for all of the scheduled time.

At a mediation, everyone must be respectful and communicate politely.

The mediator will explain the process and manage the discussions. They will:

  • allow all parties a chance to have their say
  • make time for all issues and options to be explored
  • help the parties reach a practical solution
  • ensure fair and respectful negotiations
  • call breaks when needed
  • ensure parties are not disadvantaged during the mediation.

The mediator does not:

  • take sides
  • make a decision
  • make suggestions
  • give legal advice.

The mediator confirms the outcome of the mediation with the tribunal.

Representation at mediation

Many people choose to represent themselves at VCAT. You may need our permission for someone to represent you. We may not allow professional representatives if your claim is less than $15,000. Learn more about professional representation at VCAT.

The mediator manages who is present in the mediation room and the extent that they participate. We encourage you to participate directly in the mediation, even if you are represented, because you have personal knowledge of the issues in dispute.

Confidentiality at mediations

Conversations at mediations are confidential and cannot be used later at a hearing. You may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement that means you cannot disclose to outsiders, including the media, what was said or done or any confidential documents produced.

Mediations at VCAT cannot be recorded and the mediator's notes are destroyed and not kept on file.

Private sessions

During the mediation the mediator may meet with the parties separately in private sessions. What is discussed in private sessions remains between you and the mediator unless you agree that the mediator can inform the other side.

Change the date of mediation

A change to the date of a mediation is called an adjournmentDefinitionA change to the date of a directions hearing, mediation, compulsory conference or hearing is called an adjournment. . If you need to change the date of your mediation, you must ask our permission as early as possible. Learn more about changing a hearing date (adjournment).

If you resolve your dispute before mediation

If you reach an agreement before the mediation, let us know immediately by telephone and confirm it in writing.

Alternatively, the applicantDefinitionThe person or organisation applying to VCAT. may decide to withdraw their application before the mediation. Learn more about how to withdraw a case.

If no settlement is reached at a mediation

If you cannot reach an agreement at mediation, the case is usually listed for a final hearing on a later date - or on the same day if it is part of our fast track resolution program for goods and services disputes between $500 and $15,000.

We may make directions for the final hearing first, including setting a timetable that outlines what you need to do by certain dates before the hearing.

A different VCAT member will hear the case at a final hearing and will not know about your confidential discussions at the mediation.

What to do if you miss your mediation

If you do not attend the mediation, VCAT may make an order against you without you being present.

We may:

  • make an order against the absent party
  • strike out the application made by the absent party
  • remove the absent party as a party in the proceeding
  • make an order for costs against the absent party.

Accessibility and support at VCAT

We can arrange assistance for people to attend mediations, including interpreters, security, family violence support, hearing and speech assistance, audiovisual equipment, wheelchair access and other accessibility assistance. Learn more about  support services at VCAT.