Ten top tips for conciliation

Consumer and Commercial Division 

When you attend NCAT's Consumer and Commercial Division for a hearing, you may be asked to attempt conciliation before the hearing can take place.

These 10 top tips can help you prepare for and get the most out of the conciliation process.

1. Think about what you want

Think carefully about your issues and the outcome you want to achieve.  Write a summary of these issues.

2. Work out how you will negotiate

Be open-minded and flexible.  Think about the other person's issues and how they will respond to your views.  Negotiation may involve some compromise to reach a solution you both find acceptable.

3. Tell your side of the story

Briefly explain your side of the story and show your evidence to the other person.  Explain how you would like to resolve the dispute.  Focus on solutions.  Try not to argue about who's right or wrong, or why.

4. Listen to the other person

Listen carefully to the other person and look at their evidence.  You might want to take notes.  Allow them to talk and don't interrupt.  Try to consider their point of view, even if you don't agree.

5. Focus on the issues, not the emotions

Stay focused on the issues, not on your emotions or the behaviour of the other person.

6. Start negotiating

Start coming up with possible solutions.  Make offers and counter-offers.  A successful conciliation happens when both parties agree on a solution.

7. Only agree to what you think is acceptable

Be sure you only agree to an outcome you find acceptable.  Keep in mind there has to be some give and take by both parties when coming to an agreement.

8. Ask for help if you're having problems

If you're having problems, ask the Conciliator, Tribunal Member or a Registry officer for help.  If you feel threatened by the other person, let the Conciliator or security officer know immediately.

9. If you reach an agreement

Write down your agreement on the form provided.  If a Conciliator is available they can help you write it down.  Before your agreement is made into a legally binding order, you will be asked if you understand the agreement, and confirm you made it voluntarily.

10. If you don't reach an agreement

If you can't reach agreement, the hearing will go ahead on the same day or at a later date.  Think about whether your issues are important enough to come back on another day which may increase the time, cost and inconvenience to you.