A conciliation process created to resolve disputes between customers and traders has resulted in a high percentage of cases avoiding the court system.
Business Services and Consumers Minister Gail Gago said since the program began two years ago, 403 disputes have been escalated to a Compulsory Conciliation Conference.
Of these, 169 were resolved prior to the conference taking place and 179 were resolved during the conference.
“This is a very high success rate with 86% of matters resolved,” Ms Gago said.
“The conference brings parties to a dispute, face to face, with an independent conciliator to resolve their differences.
“Court action can be stressful, expensive and time consuming and is usually the last resort when all other means of resolution have been exhausted.
“It is in everyone’s best interest to resolve a dispute at an early stage.
“Making attendance compulsory means issues in dispute can be clarified between the parties and this provides a better chance for reaching a resolution.
“Agreements reached as a result of the conciliation are documented and signed by the Commissioner or delegate and by the parties to the agreement.”
When an agreement between parties cannot be reached, individuals need to decide whether to take any further action through the relevant Court to resolve the matter.
It was only in 33 cases that a resolution wasn’t reached and in 22 cases the trader didn’t attend.
The venue for a compulsory conference is determined by the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and a CBS Officer is the conciliator.
Traders who fail to attend compulsory conferences can be issued with an expiation see of $315.