SAT encourages parties to resolve their disputes through mediation. This page provides an introduction to the mediation process.
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, and
- options to resolve the dispute.
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.
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.
A SAT member trained in mediation will act as 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.
There is no requirement that you have a representative at mediation, as it is an informal process.
All parties involved in the matter and their representatives (if the 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.
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.
A mediation will usually begin 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 an 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.
The mediator will explain this process in more detail at the start of the 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.
Yes. With very few exceptions, evidence of anything said in mediation cannot be later used in a hearing. Mediation sessions are not recorded, and 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 Tribunal orders giving effect to the settlement will usually be published on the SAT Decisions Database.
The fee for SAT’s mediation service is included in the application fee. However, if you choose to engage a legal practitioner or expert witness, you may need to pay that person.
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.
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.
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: 22 August 2023
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