Conciliation is a way to resolve a legal dispute without going to trial. A neutral third party, often a judge, may provide suggestions and develop proposals to help you and the other party come to an agreement. You and the other party may:
You and the other party can decide how to come to an agreement based on the judge's suggestions.
You and the other party must attend conciliation in person. Businesses should send a representative who either has the authority or the most knowledge to settle the case.
Any party in the dispute may request for conciliation at any stage of the proceedings. However, all parties must agree to use conciliation to resolve the dispute.
A judge in the proceedings may also refer your case for conciliation at any time during any proceedings.
Conciliation can be helpful if any of the following applies to your case:
Understand the main differences between conciliation, mediation and trial.
Who drives the session
The judge can play an active role and may share advice and possible solutions about the dispute
You and the other party will lead the discussion
The judge will hear each party's evidence and submissions before making a decision on the case
Control over the outcome
You and the other party may accept or reject suggestions or proposals by the judge
You and the other party find solutions to the dispute and determine the terms of the settlement
You and the other party must follow the judge's decision, subject to any appeal
There are several benefits of choosing conciliation over trial.
Settling your dispute through conciliation will generally be less costly as it takes less time.
This means you will save on legal and court hearing fees that would have been spent on preparing and going to trial.
In comparison, in a trial, you will give up control to a judge who makes a decision based on the evidence you provide.
This means the discussions between parties during a conciliation session will be confidential. If you and the other party reach a settlement, you may also decide to keep the details of what you have agreed to confidential.
How you file a request for conciliation depends on which court hears your case.
You may request for conciliation to take place at the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC).
Before requesting, you need to check whether the other party is willing to attend conciliation. The CDRC only accepts cases where all the parties agree to conciliation.
If you wish to attend conciliation, file the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR)/Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Form (Form 7A, State Courts Practice Directions) via eLitigation.
If your application is accepted by the CDRC, you will receive a letter notifying you of the date, time and venue of your conciliation session. The other party will also receive this letter.
If you fail to attend the session without providing valid reasons, you will be deemed to be unwilling to attempt conciliation. If the case proceeds to a trial, the court may take such conduct into account when making costs orders. (1)
There are no fees for conciliation at the CDRC except for District Court cases where each party needs to pay $250.
Refer to this table for the exceptions and details:
Type of case
Cost of CDRC conciliation
All Magistrate's Court cases
District Court cases:
All other District Court cases not mentioned above
Each party pays $250