12 July 2021

MEDIA RELEASE: Small business told to mediate and avoid the urge to litigate

Resolution Institute's 2021 Dispute Resolution Conference

Monday 12 July 2021

Litigation is a relationship and business killer. That’s according to Deputy Ombudsman Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Dr Craig Latham who will chair a panel at Resolution Institute’s International Dispute Resolution conference on Friday 16th July where he will tell small business owners that alternative dispute resolution through mediation, conciliation and arbitration is the best way to preserve commercial relationships.

It comes as no surprise to anyone that small and family businesses have been hit hard by the COVID crisis. In times of unprecedented hardship, as many have experienced over the past 18 months, disputes inevitably arise, and it is well documented that commercial lease disputes increased exponentially during the peak of the pandemic.

“Commercial disputes are very common, but they can be devastating when not handled well. Alternative dispute resolution through mediation, conciliation and arbitration is the best way to preserve commercial relationships,” said Dr Craig Latham.

Trying to resolve a dispute through the courts is not a viable option for most small businesses as it can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. In fact, small businesses are more likely to walk away from the dispute and the commercial relationship, than suffer the cost and mental load of taking legal action.

For organisations in dispute prone sectors, the efficient resolution of disputes is now more important to maintain business and rebuild community confidence and harmony. Increasingly, flexibility and reinvention of consent-based dispute resolution procedures are key to meeting the needs of disputants in these challenging times.

“Dispute resolution, or mediation and arbitration, helps people and businesses to avoid the litigation lottery of having a dispute heard in court. Outcomes are more certain and it’s cheaper and more efficient than going to court,” said Amber Williams, CEO Resolution Institute.

“Given the pressure small business owners have been under throughout the COVID crisis and the inevitable stress that comes with being involved in a dispute, it’s important that our dispute resolution avenues are supportive of participants’ wellbeing,” said Dr Latham.

Dr Latham will be joined by Michael Miller, Director, Mediation Services, NSW Small Business Commissioner, Rebecca McKelvie, Senior Mediation Officer, Victorian Small Business Commission and Ian Nosworthy, SA Government Small Business Mediator.

Journalists who are interested in joining a panel session can register their interest by sending an email to and view the full program here

View the full list of conference speakers here

Resolution Institute would like to thank our sponsors and supporting organisations for their generous support.

Resolution Institute is the peak industry body across dispute resolution disciplines in Australia and Aotearoa, New Zealand. We are a vibrant community of mediators, arbitrators, expert determiners, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other dispute resolution professionals. We value integrity, excellence, innovation, collaboration, diversity and influence. We reflect these values in our work for and with our members.


Sean Brogan, Public Affairs Manager: 0407 436 709

Andrew Serb, Research and Policy Officer: (02) 9251 3366