Disputes Resolution & Litigation

A legal dispute arises when two or more parties are unable to resolve a matter concerning their respective legal rights and obligations. They may be triggered by various circumstances and can be complex and costly. We provide dispute resolution and litigation services for a range of matters including:

  • Business and commercial disputes
  • Consumer law matters
  • Contract disputes including breach of contract
  • Property disputes
  • Commercial and retail leasing disputes
  • Building and construction disputes
  • Shareholder or partnership disputes
  • Employment matters and workplace disputes
  • Wills and estate disputes including contesting a Will

In most cases, we will recommend using one or more alternative dispute resolution processes to resolve your matter, which generally ends up costing you less in terms of time and money.


Negotiation is almost always the first step involved in resolving a dispute between two or more parties. It involves parties communicating directly, either speaking with each other or in writing, to try to reach an agreement. The parties may negotiate with the assistance of their respective legal advisors. If a settlement is reached, it can be formalised in a written agreement.

Mediation and facilitation 

Mediation involves an impartial person (a mediator) assisting the parties to negotiate a settlement to their dispute. Mediation can be used for personal disputes (such as family law and neighbourhood matters) as well as commercial disputes.

Facilitation is like mediation but more commonly used for groups that are in conflict, for example local planning matters or body corporate disputes. Facilitation can also be used as a forum for differing points of view to be discussed and considered in reaching an agreement. Facilitation is led by an impartial person called a facilitator.


Conciliation is a process in which the parties to a dispute try to reach an agreement with the help and advice of an impartial person, referred to as a conciliator. The conciliator usually has some experience of the matter being disputed and can advise parties of their respective rights and obligations. Equal opportunity disputes are often resolved through conciliation.


Arbitration is often used in situations such as industrial relations or contractual disputes. The arbitration is a similar process to conciliation where parties to a dispute present their case to an independent third person (the arbitrator). Generally, the parties are bound by the arbitrator’s decision.

Family dispute resolution

Family dispute resolution is used to resolve disputes regarding parenting arrangements or the division of property after a relationship breaks down. It is an alternative to having the matter go to court. Unless extenuating circumstances apply, attendance at family dispute resolution is compulsory for parties before starting court proceedings for parenting orders. The process aims to reach an agreement that is practical, functional and in the best interests of the children.

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV)

The DSCV has a free telephone service that attempts to resolve certain types of disputes. They will also discuss legal issues, options, suggest negotiation strategies and organise mediation, if required.

The DSCV does not deal with family law-related disputes. It can, however, assist older Victorians who are thinking about transferring assets or property to family members.

VCAT proceedings

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) resolves certain legal disputes and cases in Victoria, is less formal than a court, and hears and decides cases according to the law. VCAT’s main purpose is to provide an accessible, efficient, and low-cost tribunal which focuses on the handling and mediation of disputes.

VCAT orders are treated the same as court orders. It can hear a vast range of disputes including goods and services, residential tenancies, building and construction, equal opportunity, owners’ corporations, and planning.

Matters such as building disputes will require the parties to settle their case through conciliation with a Tribunal member. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, they will then be referred to a hearing.

You can fill out an online application where you will be allocated a conciliation or hearing date. You do not need legal representation at VCAT, however if you wish to have a lawyer represent you, you need to notify the other party beforehand.


Litigation refers to the commencement of legal proceedings where a disputed matter will be determined by a relevant court. The nature and value of such matters can vary significantly and accordingly, different courts (and tribunals) have been established based on specific categories of disputes and the monetary value of a claim.

The litigation process requires significant preparation. It involves compliance with timetables, processes and formalities, and technicalities regarding the presentation of evidence. Court disputes can be expensive and emotionally draining, so it is important to carefully consider your options and your likelihood of success before commencing or defending a matter.

It can be daunting not knowing where you stand during a legal battle, but an experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and options so your dispute can be resolved in the most practical and efficient way possible.

If you need assistance, contact [email protected] or call 03 9326 1455 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.