Pediatric Clinic Pediatric Clinic

Consumer Issues

We are all consumers of goods and services provided by individuals, private corporations, public utilities and governments. We all pay for our consumption either directly or through our taxes and our relationship with the suppliers of those goods or services is governed by law and contract. 

Issues frequently arise between the customer and supplier that should be capable of resolution directly between them but for one reason or another those solutions are not found. There is than the prospect of courts or tribunals having to decide the matter in the context of adversarial proceedings or an independent third party acting as arbitrator imposing a finding on the parties. Whichever route is chosen the result is generally irreperable damage to the relationship between the customer and supplier as well as potential reputational damage to the business of the supplier. 

At Coffs Harbour Mediation our approach to consumer issues, including issues between landlord and tenant, is to assume at the outset that the relationship of consumer and supplier was a business choice on the part of both. The customer chose both the product or service and the supplier to satisfy a need. The supplier marketed that product or service into the chosen market, often at great expense and effort, and the result was a transaction between the parties.The conclusion is that for both parties there may be a relationship worth restoring or preserving. 

As in all mediations the outcome is in the control of the parties. If agreement is reached it is one tailored to the specific needs of both sides and nothing is imposed upon them by the mediator. If the parties cannot achieve resolution in mediation they at least have a clear understanding of the other party and what separates them from agreement.

Mediation or other Alternative Dispute Resolution process (ADR) can take place at any time before or during court proceedings and often as a result of a court direction adjourning ongoing litigation to enable ADR to be undertaken. This may be at the request of the parties or ordered by the court irrespective of the parties wishes. Court imposed mediation is increasingly common. Some useful links are provided below and give an indication of the court's approach.

One of the most cogent arguments for ADR is the comparison of the cost, timescales and outcomes of litigation and ADR. One only needs to look at the small percentage of cases that ultimately have to be decided by a Judge following a trial to see that people who begin the court process rarely have the emotional or financial resources to go all the way.