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SAT encourages parties to resolve their disputes through mediation. This page provides an introduction to the mediation process.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a confidential and cooperative problem-solving process designed to help the parties find constructive solutions to their dispute with the assistance of a trained mediator. Mediation is a flexible and informal process, and the purpose of mediation is to resolve a dispute by agreement between the parties, or to narrow the issues in dispute.

The mediator helps to identify the:

  • cause of the dispute and the significant issues,
  • positions of the parties

options to resolve the dispute.

Why use mediation?

Mediation is faster and provides more flexibility for parties to reach their own solutions. Even if mediation does not resolve the entire dispute, issues are often narrowed so that the final hearing is faster and cheaper.

Which cases go to mediation?

Each case is examined to see whether it is suitable for mediation, and this is normally discussed at the first directions hearing. There are clear advantages in commencing mediation as soon as possible, although parties can request mediation at any stage prior to a final hearing.

Who are the mediators?

A SAT Member trained in mediation will act as the mediator.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator's role is not to make a decision, but to assist participants to identify issues and possible solutions. If the matter does not settle at mediation, the mediator will not be involved in the formal hearing of the case, unless all parties agree to them being involved.

If the mediation is successful, the mediator may reduce the settlement to writing and make orders in the terms of the settlement.

Should I be represented at mediation?

There is no requirement that you have a representative at mediation, as it is an informal process.

Who may attend mediation?

All parties involved in the matter and their representatives (if parties are represented) can attend a mediation session. Any relevant expert witnesses may also attend the mediation.

Generally, other people may not attend the mediation unless all parties agree. In particular circumstances, people such as officers of relevant government authorities, may be invited or permitted to attend the mediation.

In development and resources review matters, SAT may invite the Mayor or President of a local government to attend, or nominate one or more councillors or the Chief Executive Officer of the local government to attend.

Where will the mediation be held?

Most mediation sessions are held at the SAT offices. However, on occasion the mediation may be held at some other appropriate place, if it is in the best interests of the parties. For example, the site which is the subject of a planning or development dispute.

SAT will send all parties a letter advising the date, time and room number of the mediation.

What will happen at mediation?

At the start of the mediation the mediator will explain the process. It usually begins with each side explaining how they see the dispute. Once each side understands the other side’s position, options for settlement can be developed and explored, and agreement reached.

Mediation is an opportunity for you to have your say in the dispute. Even if you are represented, the mediator may talk directly to you and expect you to contribute.

How do I prepare for mediation?

  • Set aside the whole time the mediation is listed for, normally three hours.
  • Be prepared to listen.
  • Be prepared to speak.
  • Be prepared to reach an agreement.
  • As mediations are not hearings, witnesses are not required.

Is mediation confidential?

Yes, mediation is confidential. With very few exceptions, evidence of anything said in mediation cannot be later used in a hearing. No record is kept on SAT’s file of what is said, unless the parties agree, or unless details of the agreement are included in SAT’s orders made following mediation.

When a settlement is reached, the details of the settlement will usually be published on the SAT Decisions Database.

Does the mediation cost anything?

The fee for SAT’s mediation service is included in the application fee. However, if you choose to engage a legal practitioner or professional witness you may need to pay that person.

How long will the mediation take?

Mediation sessions are generally listed for three hours, but may be longer if required. Mediations can also be adjourned to continue at a later date.

What happens if my mediation is successful?

The settlement may be reduced to writing and the mediator may make orders in the terms of the settlement.

If the dispute is resolved through mediation, that generally finishes the matter and you will not be required to make any further appearances before SAT.

In development and resources review matters, SAT often invites the original decision maker to reconsider its decision under section 31 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004, taking into consideration the further information provided or amendments proposed during the mediation. See the information on section 31 invitations by SAT for decision maker to reconsider its decision.

How does a mediation end?

If a settlement is reached, a settlement agreement will be made and, where appropriate, SAT will make orders to give it effect. This will bring the matter to a close.

If settlement is not reached, further directions will be given concerning the future conduct of the matter.

Last updated: 1-Sep-2020

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