Conciliation case studies

Read the case studies below to find out how conciliation works and how we can help you resolve your dispute.

These case studies should not be viewed as precedents.  They are provided as a general guide only and should not be treated as legal advice or relied upon as such. 

An unexpected eviction 

Conciliation gives parties an opportunity to meet each other. They can discuss their issues in person and reach a compromise that meets both their needs. 

Tina and her family lived in a rental home near to her children's school.  She considered herself a good tenant as she kept the house clean and always paid the rent on time.  

The landlord sent a termination notice to Tina telling her she had 90 days to vacate the premises.  There was no reason for the eviction.  But Tina was unable to find a suitable home for rent in the local area and did not move out. The landlord then lodged with NCAT to end the tenancy.

On the day of the hearing, both parties were asked to attempt conciliation.  A Tribunal Conciliator was available to assist.

During conciliation, Tina said she was sorry she had not moved out in time. She explained she had only recently found a new home that was available in one month's time.  The landlord explained that he needed the house for his sister and her children who were coming from overseas to live in Australia.  He had promised his sister that she could live in the house when she arrived and she was due in 3 weeks’ time.

The Conciliator asked the parties to consider options and suggested alternative solutions.  The landlord agreed to arrange temporary accommodation for his sister with other family members.  Tina agreed to move out in 4 weeks.  They returned to the hearing room with their conciliated agreement, and a Tribunal Member made legally binding consent orders.

Faulty fitness equipment 

Sometimes disputes arise because of a lack of communication.  Conciliation gives parties an opportunity to discuss their issues and to understand the other person's point of view.

Ben purchased a treadmill from a local fitness equipment shop.  The treadmill stopped working after one week. Ben called the shop and arranged for them to collect the machine and carry out repairs.

Ben called the shop one month later and was told they were still waiting for a replacement part.  He called regularly to check on the repair progress until the shop stopped returning his calls.  Ben then applied to NCAT for a refund of the $2,400 paid for the treadmill.

When they arrived at NCAT,  Ben and the shop owner were asked to attempt conciliation. The shop owner told Ben that the replacement part had finally arrived and they could repair the treadmill.  Ben refused and said there had been too many promises over a long period of time. He said he only wanted his money back to buy a new machine.

After a short discussion, the Conciliator helped Ben realise that his dispute was about poor customer service.  He felt there was no communication from the shop and the repairs had taken far too long.

The shop owner apologised for the poor customer service and acknowledged they could have done better.  Ben was prepared to allow the shop to carry out the repairs providing they gave him a 12 month warranty on the machine from the date of repairs, which the shop owner agreed to.  They reached a settlement and consent orders were made by NCAT formalising their agreement.

A crooked tile or two 

Conciliation in home building matters can help parties resolve their dispute quickly and avoid a potentially long hearing.

Maria and Andy were renovating their bathroom. To save on costs, they bought a lot of the material themselves including $5,000 worth of tiles.  They arranged for a tiler to lay the tiles for $4,000.  When the tiling was finished they were not happy with the final result.  They thought the tiles were not all laid completely flat and the grouting lines were crooked. 

The tiler explained that the particular type of tiles they had bought were extremely difficult to lay, and he offered to go back and re-lay any tiles that were laid incorrectly.  However, the couple had lost confidence in the tiler and were not prepared to let him back into their home, as they were concerned he would made the tiles look worse.  Maria and Andy lodged a claim at the NCAT for $9,000 being the cost of the tiles and labour.

On the day of the Conciliation and Hearing, the tiler attended with his partner who was a full-time carer for their one year old son.  The tiler was very distressed and angry about the refusal by Maria and Andy to let him come back and fix the tiling as he was unemployed and did not have enough money to pay them.

The tiler’s partner and Maria decided to talk with each other, without their respective partners, to take the heat out of the situation.  They both agreed the tiling work was faulty and had to be done again, but that it was probably not a good idea for the tiler to return to the job.  Maria and the tiler’s partner agreed an amount of $6,000 should be paid by the tiler.  They could not agree, however, about when and how the money would be paid.

The tiler said he could pay Maria and Andy the $6,000 however due to his financial situation it could only be done by instalments.  The tiler and his partner had some savings which would enable them to pay an initial amount, and he expected to find work shortly which would ensure the balance was paid by regular instalments.

This outcome came about because the parties were willing to understand each others’ situation.  The discussion at the hearing venue allowed them to reach an agreement which would mean the tiler could afford to pay the amount outstanding.  Had the matter gone to hearing and a money order been made, there was the possibility the order would send the tiler bankrupt.  This could have resulted in Maria and Andy receiving no payment.  The agreement also avoided a potentially long hearing.  It was both cost effective and timely to reach agreement at conciliation.

If you don't reach agreement 

Even if the conciliation process is unsuccessful, a partial agreement can help parties resolve their dispute more quickly.

Ali had lived in her rental property for 5 years when she needed to move due to work commitments.  She gave notice to the real estate agency and, after vacating the property, applied for a rental bond refund. The real estate agency was notified and they lodged a rental bond application to NCAT claiming costs for cleaning and repairs.

At NCAT, Ali and the real estate agent were asked to attempt conciliation.  During conciliation, it became clear that that agent had not spoken to Ali at all about the claim for cleaning and repair costs.  Ali was in complete shock about the size of their claim, and the agent was not prepared to negotiate at all as he had strict instructions from the property owner.  The Conciliator spent some time with the parties, giving them an opportunity to discuss the outgoing condition report and to discuss items which might be considered 'fair wear and tear' rather than damage. 

The parties were unable to settle and the matter went to hearing before a Tribunal Member.   Conciliation had given the parties a clearer understanding of the issues in dispute, and several aspects of the condition report were agreed upon.  The Tribunal Member noted their agreement and the hearing was faster due to the partial agreement reached at conciliation.  Both the agent and Ali felt they were able to present their case more clearly as a result of the conciliation process.

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