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Agricultural tenancy 

Consumer and Commercial Division

​NCAT's Consumer and Commercial Division can resolve agricultural tenancy disputes under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1990.

Disputes include land deterioration or land condition, weed growth, financial benefits flowing from the use of the land or making of improvements, and termination of the tenancy.

Dispute resolution process 

When an application about an agricultural tenancy dispute is received at NCAT, the matter is referred for mediation.  If mediation is unsuccessful the matter is referred for hearing at a venue closest to the farm.

Step 1: Lodge an application

Download and complete an NCAT Commercial List Application Form.  Applications can be lodged at any NCAT Registry Office, NSW Fair Trading or Service NSW Centre.

  Download a Commercial List Application Form [PDF, 240kB]

Step 2: Mediation

Mediation is a structured negotiation process to identify the issues in dispute.  A mediator assists the parties consider and discuss options to the resolve the dispute.  Any settlement reached is binding and will be made into an enforceable NCAT order. 

Step 3: Directions hearing 

A directions hearing may be held to clarify any complex issues in dispute, set a timeframe for the hearing, or make directions about the exchange of evidence.

Step 4: Hearing

At the hearing the matter will be heard and determined by a Tribunal Member.  Tribunal appointed assessors may provide expert advice or technical assistance if needed.  Learn more about preparing for hearing.

Step 5: Final orders 

Final orders made by the Tribunal are binding and enforceable.  Learn more about orders and enforcement.

Orders 

NCAT can make the following orders under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1990:

  • Payment for an amount of money or compensation

  • Termination of a tenancy

  • Orders to remedy a​ breach of a term of a tenancy

  • Orders requiring an action to be performed

  • Amendment of record of condition of farm

  • Access orders to recover goods or fixtures.

Jurisdiction 

Under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1990, NCAT can hear and determine agricultural tenancy applications up to the value of $500,000.

Applications must be lodged no later than 3 months after the dispute arises or after the end of the tenancy, whichever is the later.

The Agricultural Tenancies Act 1990 applies to farms that are one hectare or larger, occupied or used by a tenant, and used wholly or mostly for agricultural purposes.

Mediation 

All agricultural tenancy disputes are referred to mediation in the first instance.  The mediation session will generally be held within 6 weeks after the application is lodged with NCAT.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a structured negotiation process.  The mediator is a neutral and independent person. They help the parties identify issues and consider options to resolve the dispute.​

During mediation, the parties must be courteous to each other and cooperate with the mediator.  Any settlement reached is binding and will be made into an enforceable Tribunal order.

Mediation is voluntary and confidential.  A party may terminate the mediation at any time.  If mediation is unsuccessful the matter will be referred for a Tribunal hearing.

Who is a mediator?

A mediator is a person appointed under the Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013.  ​Mediators dealing with agricultural tenancy disputes have farming knowledge and experience.  Most mediators are also appointed as Tribunal Members.

A neutral and independent mediator will be appointed from NCAT's panel of mediators.  Their role is to create a negotiation environment to enable parties to reach their own solutions to the dispute.

The mediator assists the parties to identify the issues in dispute, to develop and explore options for the resolution of the dispute, and to reach an agreement which is acceptable to both parties.

The mediator will not give legal or other professional advice to any party, impose a result on any party, or make a decision or determination.

What happens during mediation?

The mediation session is held in a neutral venue with a main room large enough to accommodate all participants.  Once the participants have been introduced, the mediator will explain the mediation process and objectives.

The mediator will ask each party in turn to explain the dispute from their perspective.  From the parties’ statements the mediator will identify the issues in dispute and any common ground between the parties.  The mediator will usually write the issues on a whiteboard and will set an agenda for the discussion of those issues.

Private sessions

During the mediation, the mediator may meet with each party separately.  This enables the mediator to explore any underlying issues and to ensure the parties are content with the mediation process.  Proposed settlement options are often fully explored and tested during these private sessions. The mediator will not disclose anything said in a private session to other party unless they are authorised to do so.

Confidentiality

The parties and the mediator will not disclose any document or information given during mediation to any person not involved in the mediation unless the person to whom the information relates, consents or if required by law to make such disclosures.

Definitions 

Terms used under the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1990.

Agricultural purposes

Grazing, dairying, pig farming, poultry farming, viticulture, orcharding, beekeeping, horticulture, growing of vegetables or other crops, forestry, or any combination of these things.

Tenant

The person granted the right to tenancy of a farm by the owner of the farm; includes a sharefarmer and any person whose right to occupy or use the farm is granted by the tenant of that farm.  It does not refer to an employee of the owner.

Tenancy

An agreement for a lease or licence, a tenancy at will or a sharefarmer agreement, or any other arrangement by which a person who is not the owner of the farm has the right to occupy or use it.

 
 
 

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