Business Advice

Have you been in a business dispute? The Ombudsman wants to hear from you

Eloise Keating /

Kate Carnell

Kate Carnell

Ask most small business owners if they’ve ever been in a business dispute and chances are, they’ll say yes.

Well, now’s their chance to speak up: Australia’s Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell is taking a closer look at business disputes and is calling for small businesses to share their stories via an online survey.

Carnell’s office also wants to hear about what steps the businesses took to resolve the disputes, if had they had in fact tried to do so. The Ombudsman doesn’t only want to hear about recent disputes — businesses can share their experiences from as long as five years ago.

“We are hoping to hear from business owners who might have found an unfair contract term in a contract or who had an invoice paid later; we want to know what steps you took to resolve the issue,” she said in a statement this morning.

“We’re also keen to hear from business owners who might have been involved in these types of disputes, but didn’t pursue any avenues to try to resolve them.”

The research is part of the Ombudsman’s ongoing inquiry into access to justice for small businesses, and follows similar inquiries into how small businesses are treated by the big banks, for example.

“Chasing disputes is expensive and time consuming, so anything we can do to improve access to justice for small businesses is extremely important,” said Carnell.

The online survey can be accessed here. Once the research is complete, Carnell’s office intends to release a discussion paper and propose a range of policy options.

*This article was updated at 12pm on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. 

NOW READ: Calls for legal aid for small businesses as dispute resolution enters the spotlight

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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