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If you’re unhappy with your mediation outcomes, could it be your mediator was not qualified?

After speaking with many people in various social media groups that discuss legal issues, it became apparent that many people are disillusioned with their mediation experiences, somewhat baffled by this,  I was determined to find out what is the cause of such ill-feeling towards mediation.

After numerous discussions, what became abundantly clear, was in many cases the Mediator was not qualified as a Mediator,  yes they may be legal professionals,  lawyers, barristers, court registrars etc who are very familiar with the law and can grasp the legal implications of a case, but the problem here is…. they are not mediators,  when mediating they are not there to give legal advice or opinion.  That is the job of the lawyers representing the parties.

So with no formal mediation qualifications or training, the ad-hoc mediator enters the fray,  puts on his mediator hat and now hopes for the best that they can help the parties negotiate a deal with some sort of guidance from the wannabe mediator.

On top of that to add insult to injury the parties are forced to pay exorbitant rates for this so called mediation,  with costs ranging from $7,500 to over $13,000 for the day of Mediation being commonly quoted.

In contrast, highly experienced, qualified mediators who are trained to NMAS standards and registered with the Mediator Standards Board according to rates paid by Government agencies for mediators who have to maintain an 80% success rate[1] in their performance and resolution of cases only get $1,350 per day[2].

So before you chose your next mediator or accept one to mediate your case click here Mediator Standards Board and see if their name is listed to show they are qualified and trained to National Standards.

If you would like a free, no obligation consultation with a nationally qualified mediator simply complete the form below and we will call you to discuss whether mediation could help you.

 

Footnotes 

[1] Victorian Small Business Commissioner, Mediation Panel Policy for Appointment of Mediators, accessed here on 06/13/18 at 10.56am, https://www.vsbc.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/VSBC-Mediation-Panel-Policy-for-Appointment-of-Mediators.pdf.

[2] Victorian Small Business Commissioner, Mediation Panel Fee Policy, accessed here on 6/13/2018 at 10.54am  https://www.vsbc.vic.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/VSBC-Mediation-Panel-Fee-Policy.pdf.

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Why some women walk away from the family court

On the surface, their two-decade marriage might have looked a success: a large home, prestigious cars in the driveway and a gaggle of children growing fast.

But when Sarah’s* husband returned home each day from his high-paid job in Melbourne’s business district, she bore the brunt of his frustration and violence.

He urinated on her, cut her hair, assaulted her and forced her to sleep on couch cushions on the floor rather have her “dumb, dirty, stupid” presence in their bed.

When Sarah eventually fled – not a dollar to her name – and took out a restraining order, her wealthy husband warned she was “never going to get a cent”.

It is at this stage that Sarah could have considered Mediation as a mechanism to bring her husband to the negotiating table, mediation today can be conducted in a safe-space, where the parties can be in separate rooms in case of fear of violence and intimidation.  There are also online facilities available where it can be conducted from the safety of your own home.

Many disadvantaged women simply walk away from their entitlement to a fair division of property when relationships end because of a lack of quick, affordable ways to resolve family law disputes, according to new research from the Women’s Legal Service Victoria, launched on the eve of International Women’s Day.

A quick affordable method to resolve this could have been Mediation, had Sarah known of the options available to her, even if the matter had already gone to compulsory family mediation and a 60i certificate had been issued, there was nothing preventing Sarah from taking control of her life and invoking private mediation, this time with a qualified Mediator of her choice, the mediation would still be unbiased and facilitated in a neutral capacity but at least Sarah could feel comfortable with the person doing the mediation.

Dividing assets, like superannuation for example, through the family law system is far too complex for someone with no legal training, the service’s lawyers say.

Researchers interviewed about 50 clients who had small amounts of property to divide up after separation, with the average size of settlements about $71,000.

But these relatively modest sums could make a crucial difference to the lives of these women, who were often battling financial hardship.

They told heartbreaking stories of being admitted to hospital from court-related stress, or spending a year in a court battle, having to interpret legal documents with a dictionary in one hand.

Even before matters reached court, two-thirds of women had their claims delayed because their ex-partners were unwilling to make a full and frank disclosures of their financial position.

This meant they had to begin onerous court proceedings, rather than settle matters through negotiation,  however once more, appropriate dispute resolution through Mediation may have helped achieve a faster result.  Even if there had been a failed attempt at mediation in the early stages of the break up when things were highly emotionally charged,  as time passes, the opportunity to revisit mediation for resolution should not be overlooked.

The relevant laws are incredibly complicated and hard to interpret, and accessing any rightful ownership is a many-step process, said Helen Matthews, the director of policy at the legal service.

“At the moment it’s one-size-fits-all approach, no cheap or efficient way of dealing with smaller matters in the current system,” Ms Matthews saaid.

The majority of women interviewed – almost 90 per cent – had experienced family violence, including economic abuse, and all said the delays they experienced in resolving disputes only exacerbated their financial difficulties.

Once more, had Sarah been informed of the low cost solutions available with Mediation and the speed at which it could resolve things so she could get on with her life, things may have been very different.

Sarah’s only option when she left her husband was to sleep in a donated tent at the local showgrounds. Their children remained in the family home – he had never been violent towards them and Sarah felt they would be safe.

For three months she lived on cornflakes and canned food until she was placed in community housing.

Through her eight-year family court matter, Sarah had to constantly subpoena her partner – at more than $100 a pop – who did not want to disclose his financial situation. She was eventually awarded a $100,000 settlement.

Sarah continues to be terrified of her ex-husband, and said when she saw him at the court hearing she almost wet herself with fear. Negotiation through a third party would reduce this trauma for women in her position, she says.   The best qualified third party in such a situation is an appropriately qualified Mediator who has been accredited through the National Mediation Accreditation System and is registered with the Mediator Standards Board of Australia.

Family violence is only rarely taken into account in determining property settlements, researchers found, despite the fact that economic abuse often leaves women with limited resources.

Mediation however can also help manage high conflict cases such as Sarah’s through use of Restorative Justice and Shuttle Mediation processes along with online services that are available now where you can participate in the mediation from the safety of your own home.

There should be a streamlined system for small property matters, and strengthened obligations for financial disclosure, researchers say.

Sarah, who found the Victorian Women’s Legal Service by searching the terms “women and help” on a computer in the local library, says the free legal advice and support saved her life.

“I was suicidal and could see no future for myself. I’m so appreciative of them.”

*Names have been changed for safety reasons, article original source from the Age.

For further information on if Mediation can help you, please complete the contact form below for a free initial consultation.

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The Lawyer who didn’t know CISG (International Commercial Law)

Introduction

This paper examines ‘Phil’ the hypothetical lawyer who didn’t study international commercial law, which is not necessary to complete a law degree.  Phil didn’t know the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods ‘CISG[1] applied to a contract of sale based on Victorian law.

The CISG[2] has been adopted worldwide by 84 States[3] becoming the governing law globally, covering international sales of goods since the 1st of January 1988 and adopted in Australia, in all states and territories, since April 1st 1989[4].

Autonomous Application.

The CISG is autonomously applicable to all Australian transactions involving the sale of goods internationally by virtue of Article 1 (1) as a result of Australia being a contracting State.  The Convention, which is now part of the municipal law of Australia, is not to be treated as foreign law which requires proof as a fact[5], the Provisions of the Convention have the force of law in Victoria[6] and prevail over any other law in Victoria to the extent of any inconsistency[7].

Despite three decades of operation few cases have considered CISG in Australia.  According to the Pace Law School, Institute of International Commercial Law, that maintain a CISG database of cases, their Country Case Schedule (last updated on the 25th of January 2016) contains links to some 3,152 cases where Courts in Member states have considered CISG, of those only 26 cases from Australia get a mention[8], similarly searches on Australian Legal Databases produce few results.

Australian application of the CISG has been criticized as still in the Australian legal outback[9], with criticism extending to suggest Australian lawyers have paid the CISG inadequate attention to their clients detriment[10].

The criticism has been savage, “the CISG has not been fully understood”[11] and “it is fair to say that the CISG is scarcely known in Australia.”[12] One has to wonder what chance would an Australian client have with an Australian lawyer who is not well versed in CISG?

The Lawyer Who Doesn’t know Part I – Does CISG apply?

If Phil relied on his knowledge of Australian Contract Law when drafting, choosing Victorian Law as the agreed law that governs the contract and thus invoking the Goods Act 1958 (Vic) ‘GAV’,     he may unwittingly have put his client into a position where the contract is subject to the CISG first and foremost, with Australian law only filling any gaps.

This is because the GAV provides that the CISG has force of law in Victoria, and prevails over any inconsistencies[13]. Even if a lawyer tries to avoid the CISG in the pleadings the Court may still apply the CISG due to the lawyer pleading incorrectly inapplicable domestic laws.

This was evident in Downs Investments Pty Ltd v Perwaja Steel SDN BHD [2001] QCA 433[14] where the contract stated any dispute to “be settled by the laws prevailing in Brisbane”[15] yet it was held that the CISG applied, stating

“As the respondent was in Australia and the appellant in Malaysia it was held that The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, made relevant by the Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act l986, applied to the transaction. The learned trial judge held on the evidence that the appellant had fundamentally breached the contract and assessed damages pursuant to Articles 74 and 75 of the Convention.”[16]

Then in Perry Eng P/L (Rec And Man Appt’d) V Bernold AG No. SCGRG-99-1063 [2001] SASC 15 (1 February 2001) ‘Perry[17] where Perry already entered default judgement and the hearing turned to damages, the contract provided:

“The Contract shall be deemed to have been made in the State of South Australia and all matters relating directly or indirectly thereto or arising directly or indirectly there from shall be governed in all respect by the Laws of the State of South Australia and the parties submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the State of South Australia Courts.”[18]

The Court however took a different view, stating “However, there is a further complication that the Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act 1986 (SA) applies to the dealings between the parties but the relevant provisions have not been pleaded in the plaintiff’s statement of claim. The statement of claim has been drawn up on the assumption that the South Australian Sale of Goods Act applies. This seems to me to be fatal to the plaintiff’s ability to proceed to judgment based on damages for breach of contract.”[19]

In response Perry contended “that it was not necessary to plead the specific provisions of the Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act”[20].  Reliance was placed on Roder Zelt v Rosedown Park[21] but, Burley J did not accept this and distinguished the cases stating “in my view that case is not authority for the proposition contended for by the plaintiff. The trial Judge, von Doussa J, did not complete the hearing of the matter and did not then indicate that it was unnecessary to plead the statute.”[22]

Therefore it is clear that Roder Zelt can be easily distinguished, as held by Brumby J above.[23]  Ultimately it was held “That being the case, the Court cannot proceed to an assessment of damages based on the provisions of an Act of Parliament which the plaintiff acknowledges do not apply to the claim pursued by the plaintiff.[24]  Phil just lost his client damages.

The Lawyer who doesn’t know Part II – Domestic Pleadings.

In the case of Ginza Pty Ltd v Vista Corp Pty Ltd[25]Ginza[26] ordered contact lens solution from Vista subject to compliance with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (‘TGA’) regulatory requirements including that the goods were sterile.

The TGA discovered bacterial contamination in its random testing and ordered the goods recalled.

A dispute between the Seller and Buyer ensued with Vista suing for full contract price and Ginza countered that no payment should be due with claims for breach due to non-conformity, negligence[27] and claimed damages for lost profits and lost goodwill as well as costs of recall[28].

Merchantable Quality.

Ginza argued express terms of compliance with TGA regulatory requirements and sterility were a condition of the contract and in the alternative implied terms of “merchantable quality and fitness for purpose” applied pursuant to the Sale of Goods Act 1895 (WA) or the CISG[29].

The problem with such an argument is that “merchantable quality” is not a CISG term[30], it comes from Common Law and Domestic Legislation, which the CISG is above autonomously and any interpretation of the Contract, as it is covered by CISG, ought to be read in light of CISG Article 35(2)(a) and global case law.

In this case the appropriate standard is “fitness for purpose” which requires the goods to be of specific standards[31] and non-conformity under Article 35(1) which requires compliance with “quality, quantity and description”.

If it was not so clear cut and the distinction was drawn between merchantable quality in reliance upon domestic law as opposed to fitness for specific purpose which is a narrower standard under the CISG, Phil’s client could face a controversial matter.

Phil might erroneously find in Ginza a reason to cite a non-CISG case in support of an argument of contamination[32] however, as Barker J considered, any pleadings ought to be made in light of the CISG on cases of non-conformity[33] and with CISG case law available which specifically deals with the issue of contamination, non-conformity and whether there was an obligation to take the goods,[34] Phil would be in trouble if he doesn’t know this.

Reasonable Time

Another issue Phil needs to consider, is notification under the CISG, even if the item does not conform with the specifications in the contract, the CISG requires that the Seller be notified within reasonable time or the right to claim is forfeited[35].

The CISG has been adopted into domestic legislation and because domestic law forms part of the agreement and applies CISG to a transaction even if the opposing party is not a CISG country so long as the choice of law is Australia, CISG applies, as held in  Playcorp Pty Ltd v Taiyo Kogyo Ltd [2003] VSC 108 ‘Playcorp’[36].

It has been held that CISG applies unless expressly excluded as noted by Bridge, “[t]here seems to be hardening in favour of the view that choice of law clauses in favor of the law of a Contracting State do not exclude the CISG”[37].

The trend in Australia in Commercial contracts for international sale of goods has been to opt-out of the CISG which in many cases may not be in the best interests of the client, who would be better served had CISG been the operative law[38].

Services can be captured by the CISG

The CISG can apply to services, not just goods, a client represented by Phil may be surprised to find that they may be liable for breach of a service contract pursuant to the CISG in certain circumstances[39], this is provided for in Article 3.
If an Australian Client supplied substantial materials to the Seller to transform and sell back to the Buyer, this might attract the CISG as it may be held the buyer is liable for the transformative process to the degree the quality of the materials supplied affects the quality of the product.  Where the value of the goods exceeds a 50% maximum threshold for transformation services[40], under CISG the seller may avoid responsibility.

When the service component is completed in Australia, Phil didn’t know that Arbitration clauses can be avoided in service contracts in certain circumstances, pursuant to S.106 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW) on the grounds of being an unfair contract in terms of the effect the contract has on the Industry norms[41].

Australian Consumer Law may not apply

Goods bought for personal use are excluded under the CISG, as are stocks, shares, negotiable instruments and money, also ships, aircraft and the supply of electricity are excluded, as are auctioned goods and goods sold on execution of authority of law under Article 2.2.3.

Phil faces another problem with Article 2.2.4, he may not think the Convention applies and find himself captured by it regardless, because it was not explicitly excluded.[42] His arguments on common law contract validity and the effect which the contract may have on property if the goods sold, are excluded by the CISG[43].

If Phil relies upon such Australian cases when ultimately the CISG is the prevailing law, he may be applying precedents that globally have been criticized and have valid International precedents[44] from CISG cases and other external sources[45] used against him.  Much of Phil’s argument could be struck out[46] of court.

Phil didn’t know that the Interpretation of Legislation Act (1984) s.35 is in conflict with the CISG and to the extent of the conflict the CISG prevails, for start, the CISG has it’s own interpretive provisions in Article 7 that require it to be interpreted in light of its international character and the need to promote uniformity and good faith in international trade.

Article 7(1) CISG “excludes recourse to methodological theories of interpretation of domestic texts”[47] meaning use of domestic law in resolving interpretation of text covered by the CISG is explicitly excluded.  You can’t use domestic law to interpret CISG.

Phil is thrust into the CISG world where autonomous[48] interpretation[49] as seen in Playcorp where even if the other contracting party is from a Country that is not a member state of the CISG it still applies as Part of Australian Law which governs the Contract.  In doing so CISG is lifted autonomously above the domestic law and prevails in the event of inconsistencies.  It is to be interpreted under three CISG directives.  Having regard to the CISG’s International Character, promoting uniformity in application, and promoting good faith in International Trade[50].

Good Faith

Australian contract law has struggled to come to terms with “good faith” as a contract term[51], yet the CISG requires it in International Trade.

As Australia’s contract law values freedom of contract and economic independence, the High Court recently cast doubt upon whether good faith is an automatic term in contract law.[52]

However, in Australia, such an implied term appears to conflict with fundamental notions of caveat emptor that are inherent (statute and equitable intervention apart) in common law conceptions of economic freedom. It also appears to be inconsistent with the law as it has developed in this country in respect of the introduction of implied terms into written contracts which the parties have omitted to include.”[53]

“Good Faith” is not implied into a contract in Australia as it is with CISG, Phil might argue that good faith is not part of the contract as it is too vague and uncertain[54] as is the Australian position and that his client’s legitimate interests were being protected, which is not in breach of an express contractual term. Which in Australian contract law, he may be right, but here with CISG being the dominant law, that argument would fail.

Phil may find acting in good faith, in CISG terms, involves both parties acting in good faith, to each other, to the point of minimizing damages of the other party as much as favoring the party acting in its own “legitimate interests”,[55] to be seen as good faith.  To do an act that knowingly a party ought to realise is foreseeable to cause harm would be considered a breach of that good faith.

It would be easy to fall into the trap of relying on the Queensland decision of Downs Investments Pty Ltd (in liq) v Perwaja Steel SDN BHD [2002] 2 Qd R 462 ‘Downs’, which itself misinterpreted the application of the CISG in common law terms citing erroneously non-CISG cases of Robinson v Harman (1848) 1 Ex 850 and Hadley v Baxendale (1854) 9 Ex 341 ‘Hadley’ instead of focusing on Article 74 and International cases.  It’s a published decision that forms part of our Common Law after all.

However, CISG can be distinguished from our Common law in that Article 74 focuses on damages, and limits to it, to actual damages and lost profits for breach, and then limits it further to foreseeable damages which ought to have been known, the CISG views things from the perspective of the breaching party unlike our Common law and the cases cited in Downs which examines the ‘contemplation’ of both parties[56] this would not assist in a CISG argument.

To make things worse now for Phil, CISG Article 73 defines foreseeability as a ‘possibility’ whereas he relies on Common law in Hadley requiring ‘probability’. A significantly different standard of foreseeability, with ‘probability’ requiring the additional level of an objective reasonable person test of whether or not on the balance of probabilities it was more likely to happen, than not, that it is ‘probable’ that the event would occur.

Phil is in difficulty if his client is the one doing the breaching, the plaintiff just needs to prove that is was foreseeable, that it was possible, while Phil may argue to the wrong standard and cost his client avoidable damages.  Had Phil known the Court was obligated to determine the matter on CISG Jurisdiction, he may have submitted additional evidence to counter the foreseeability to a possibility standard.

Phil sees a case based on Victorian Law and relies upon the Goods Act (Vic) 1958 which requires that the goods be of a merchantable quality, where as now he finds himself in CISG Jurisdiction which requires fitness for intended purpose.

The higher standard of specific purpose requires that the seller disclosed to the buyer the specific purpose that the goods would be used for and required that the Seller confirm that the goods could meet that specific purpose as opposed to a merchantability standard, which just requires that the goods are fit for the general purpose they are intended for.

So while Phil argues that the goods the seller supplied were of merchantable quality, the buyer doesn’t care.  If the buyer asked can I use your microwave oven to melt glass safely? If the seller said yes, then it matters not that the microwave works perfectly for its general purpose it was intended for, if it can’t melt glass, it is not fit for the purpose.

In Conclusion;

Phil has a lot to learn.  A Corporate client with Phil as a lawyer would certainly be disadvantaged, a lawyer who has not studied CISG and International Commercial Law would be ill-equipped to advise a client on even drafting a contract, let alone litigating a dispute based on one.   Any commercial transactions in Australia involving the sale of goods internationally would need an experienced International Commercial Lawyer who is well versed in CISG.   As Australian Courts play catch up, they may entertain Phil and his arguments for a while, but if the dispute turned on application of the letter of the law, the Australian Courts will be obligated to follow the CISG and its application as a higher law when it comes to international contracts for the sale of goods.

 

Footnotes:
[1] United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods of 11 April 1980 ‘CISG’.

[2] Ibid.

[3] CISG: Table of Contracting States, accessed at http://cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/countries/cntries.html on 02/01/2018 at 1.27pm.

[4] Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act 1987 (Vic) (repealed) now found in the Goods Act (Vic) ‘GAV’ S.85, Sale of Goods (Vienna Convention) Act has also been incorporated into all other States and Territories and the Trade Practices Act 1974(Cth) S.66a, now found in Competition and Consumer Act (Cth) 2010 – Schedule 2 The Australian Consumer Law, s.68.

[5] Roder Zelt and Hallenkonstruktionen GMBH v Rosedown Park Pty Ltd. (1995) ACSR 153, op cit.

[6] GAV S.86.

[7] Ibid S.87.

[8] CISG Database Country Case Schedule accessed at http://cisg.pace.edu/cisg/text/casecit.html on 02/01/2018 at 1.35pm.

[9] Spagnolo, L., “The Last Outpost: Automatic CISG Opt Outs, Misapplications and the Costs of Ignoring the  Vienna  Sales  Convention  for  Australian  Lawyers” (2009)  10 Melbourne  Journal  of  International Law 141, at p.142.

[10] Ibid, David Fairlie, ‘A Commentary on Issues Arising under Articles 1 to 6 of the CISG’ (Paper presented at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (‘UNCITRAL’) and Singapore International Abitration Centre Joint Conference, ‘Celebrating Success: 25 Years United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods’, Singapore, 22–3 September 2005).

[11] Benjamin Hayward, “The CISG in Australia–The Jigsaw Puzzle Missing a Piece” ‘Benjamin’, citing Zeller,

B., “Traversing International Waters” (2004) 78(9) Law Institute Journal 52, at p352.

[12] Ibid citing Finn, Justice P., “National Contract Law”, supra fn 7, at p.9.

[13] GAV S.85-87.

[14] Downs Investments Pty Ltd v Perwaja Steel SDN BHD [2001] QCA 433.

[15] Ibid at 21.

[16] Ibid at 2.

[17] Perry Eng P/L (Rec And Man Appt’d) V Bernold AG No. SCGRG-99-1063 [2001] SASC 15 (1 February 2001) ‘Perry’.

[18] Ibid at 15.

[19] Perry at 16.

[20] Ibid at 17.

[21] Roder Zelt-und Hallenkonstruktionen gmbh v Rosedown Park Pty Ltd & Anor [1995] FCA 275; 13 ACLC 776.

[22] Perry at 17.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Perry at 18.

[25] Ginza Pty Ltd v Vista Corp Pty Ltd  [2003] WASC 11 (Unreported, Barker J, 11 January 2003) ‘Ginza’.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ginza at [12]–[13], [16]–[18]. A related action between Ginza and a corporation related to Vista, Kontack Pty Ltd was consolidated with this action. Counterclaimed commission fees were admitted and are not relevant to the current discussion: see ibid [20].

[28] Ibid at [21], [214]. On damages for loss of goodwill under art 74.

[29] Ibid at [13], [16].

[30] Ibid at [190].

[31] Ibid at [124], [153].

[32] Ginza at [131], [152].

[33] ICC Award No 6653 of 1993 (1993) (22 per cent of steel bars outside specified weight tolerances); Engines for Hydraulic Presses and Welding Machines Case (Landgericht Düsseldorf, Germany, 23 June 1994) and ICC Award No 8740 of 1996 (coal contained 20 per cent rather than specified 32 per cent dry matter).

[34] International Flavors & International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.  IFF & Fragrances (Netherland) B.V. v Ramon Sabater SA heard in the Spanish Court of Appeal Audiencias Provinciales May 24, 2012.

[35] Spagnolo, Lisa — “The Last Outpost: Automatic CISG Opt Outs, Misapplications and the Costs of Ignoring the Vienna Sales Convention For Australian Lawyers” [2009] MelbJlIntLaw 10; (2009) 10(1) Melbourne Journal of International Law 141, A maximum time of two years for notice is imposed by art 39(2) of the CISG. However, normally a much shorter period is imposed by the requirement that notice be given within a ‘reasonable’ time: see  Model Locomotives Case (Kantonsgericht Schaffhausen, Switzerland, 27 January 2004) §3c (reasonable time in art 39 depends on the type of goods); Person of Greece v Ed Fruit and Vegetables BV (Rechtbank Breda, Netherlands, 16 January 2009) [3.12] (watermelons subject to decay, inadequate notification if not within days).

[36] Playcorp Pty Ltd v Taiyo Kogyo Ltd [2003] VSC 108 ‘Playcorp’.

[37] Benjamin at 201, Footnote [63]-[65].

[38] Lisa Spagnolo, The last Outpost: Automatic CISG Opt outs, misapplications and the costs of ignoring the Vienna Sales Convention for Australian Lawyers, Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol.10, ‘Spagnolo’.

[39] Ibid, Footnote [82].

[40] Ibid, Footnote [83]-[90].

[41] Metrocall Inc v Electronic Tracking Systems P/L (2000) 52 NSWLR 1.

[42] Olivaylle Pty Ltd v Flottweg GMBH & Co KGAA (No 4),  [2009] FCA 522; (2009) 255 ALR 632,  “CISG was excluded by the words ‘Australian law applicable under exclusion of UNCITRAL law’ at [28].

[43] CISG Article 2.2.4(b).

[44] Benjamin Hayward, The CISG’s place in Australian Law – An incomplete jigsaw puzzle, The jigsaw puzzle missing a piece (2010) 14 VJ 193 – 222 at 211, ‘Benjamin’ at 222.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Spagnolo Pg.55, 57.

[47] Spagnolo at 211., Schlechtriem, P.,  “Article  7” in  Schlechtriem,  P.and  Schwenzer,  I.(eds),Commentary  on  the  UN Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG), 2ndEnglish ed, 2005, Oxford University Press, New York, p.93, at p.96, para.12.

[48] Benjamin at 211.

[49] Playcorp Pty Ltd v Taiyo Kogyo Ltd [2003] VSC 108 (Unreported, Hansen J, 24 April 2003) at 235.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Marcus S. Jacobs QC, Professor Katrin Cutbush-Sabine, Philip Bambagiotti The CISG in Australia-to-date: An illusive quest for global harmonisation?” at 9.2, accessed at https://www.cisg.law.pace.edu/cisg/biblio/jacobs2.html#35 on 01/09/2018 at 8.58pm, ‘Marcus’.

[52] Ibid at 9.4.2 citing Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, v South Sydney City Council,[41] Kirby J.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Aiton v Transfield [1999] NSWSC 996 (1 October 1999).

[55] South Sydney District Rugby League Football Club Ltd v News Ltd & Ors [2000] FCA 1541 (3 November 2000) at [393, 394].

[56] Benhamin citing Spagnolo, L., “The Last Outpost”, supra note 6, at p.178.

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Mediation service that separates warring couples experiences record demand

A mediation service that resolves family law disputes without going to court or requiring separated partners to see each other is experiencing record demand in South Australia.

The service includes a so-called “shuttle mediation” program, which uses a purpose-built facility in Adelaide that keeps the warring parties physically separated while their lawyers convey their concerns to an independent arbiter in a room that sits between them.

Here at ADROnline we have the ability to utilize a similar shuttle mediation program during the induction process to narrow down the disputed issues and then we use technology to deliver the Mediation service online.

Figures in the Legal Services Commission of South Australia’s annual report revealed demand for the service had increased by 22 per cent in the past year, and its success rate had climbed to 79 per cent.

Commission director Gabrielle Canny said the ability to keep the clients physically separated throughout the mediation process was a big advantage in some cases.

“We think the combination of being able to do a traditional mediation in family dispute resolution and then this shuttle mediation has led to the success rate that we’re seeing,” Ms Canny said.
Staying for the kids

For couples with children, ending an unhappy relationship is not always black and white.

“We find that the parties that have more complex issues, for example there might be a power imbalance or there might be sensitive issues, very much people who have been exposed to the trauma of family breakdown and are not coping well, they might prefer to do a mediation through … shuttle mediation.”

Ms Canny said the ability to prevent face-to-face contact between the parties helped to reduce the emotional and distressing impact of the process.

“The individuals, the mother and the father, are not having to face the other person and perhaps emotionally jeopardise the result, but they’re able to have it logically put by the lawyer and the chairperson would work through to try to get the best result for the children.”
Families can avoid length, costly court proceedings

She said the mediation process helped resolve legal disputes such as child custody arrangements faster than the often lengthy and emotionally taxing traditional court proceedings.

“It is really a service that should continue to grow because it helps separating parents avoid court proceedings, court proceedings and family law are expensive, lengthy and deeply distressing so it’s good for families and good for our community.

“The shuttle-style approach can help many couples reach a solution relatively quickly, rather than having to wait months or years for the matter to be dealt with in court.”

Ms Canny said the service would not be suitable for everyone and each couple’s circumstances were carefully assessed before any dispute resolution process would take place.

If you would like to find out more about our online mediation services click here to contact us.

Alternatively if you would like to talk to a Qualified mediator now….

Source : ABC News

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Farm Debt Mediation Reforms: Has the farm house been spared?

The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme makes it compulsory for banks and other creditors to offer mediation to farmers before commencing debt recovery proceedings on farm mortgages.

A farmer has 21 days to respond to an offer to mediate, otherwise the creditor can commence action as normal.

Farm debt mediation is a structured negotiation process where a neutral and independent mediator assists the farmer and the creditor to try to reach agreement about current and future debt arrangements.

The mediator’s role is to facilitate the discussion and they will not provide advice on the matters in dispute.

Mediation is a simple, voluntary and confidential process that is quick, accessible and affordable.

The scheme is administered by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) and further information can be sought from the Farm Debt Mediation Officer on 136 186. Mediations will be provided through the Victorian Small Business Commission.

This scheme applies only to:

  • farm mortgages covering a farm (or part of a farm), farm machinery or a water share (within the meaning of the Water Act 1989).
  • farmers, defined as: ‘a person (whether an individual person or a corporation) who is solely or principally engaged in a farming operation’. This includes people who own land cultivated under a share-farming agreement, or the personal representatives of a deceased farmer.
  • Guarantors to a farm mortgage need to be fully informed and involved in the process.

It is recommended that farmers seek assistance from their local Rural Financial Counsellor, Solicitor, Accountant or some other appropriately qualified person. These people can assist farmers to prepare for mediation, attend the mediation session with farmers, and help with any actions that need to be undertaken after the mediation session.

In Victoria the FARM DEBT MEDIATION ACT 2011 – SECT 1 Purpose states:

“purpose of this Act is to provide for the efficient and equitable resolution of farm debt disputes by requiring a creditor to provide a farmer with the option to mediate before taking possession of property or other enforcement action under a farm mortgage.”

In Queensland the new regime provides mortgagees must:

  • offer to the mortgagor farmer the option of pursuing mediation before commencing any enforcement action.(including by way of taking possession, exercising power of sale or giving a statutory enforcement notice);
  • take part in the mediation in good faith if the mortgagor farmer opts to pursue mediation; and
  • not enforce the mortgage in contravention of the Act.

In NSW after 23 years there is a review by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority’s (RAA’s) in their Strategic Plan 2015-2019 of the Farm Debt Mediation Act 1994 (NSW) (FDMA).

The review is part of the RRA’s initiative in partnership with the Australian Government to nationalise farm debt mediation, whilst driving economic growth within the industry and community.

The FDMA allows debtors in default of a farm mortgage to engage in facilitated mediation with creditors before the creditor takes enforcement action to recover the debt, allowing for the ‘efficient and equitable resolution of farm disputes.’(Section 3 FDMA)

What is Under Review?

The proposed changes impose strict obligations upon farmers to comply with the FDMA’s prescribed operation, yet eliminates some burdensome procedural requirements.

The proposed main changes are to:

  • expand the definition of “farmers” to include guarantors with an interest in an affected farm mortgage to be notified of and possibly attend mediation proceedings;
  • change the definition of “farm” so that it may be expanded to protect a broader range of farmers under the Australian New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC), which excludes fishing, hunting and trapping from the FMDA.
  • The Review also proposes new guidelines requiring farmers to demonstrate they are principally involved in primary production.
  • exclusion of machinery such as motorbikes, quadbikes cars and trucks may no longer form the subject of debt mediation, as the law doesn’t currently exclude machinery that serves multiple purposes.

Other important changes include the proposed elimination of the requirement to establish a mediation claim in multiple jurisdictions, as well as the introduction of “show cause” notices and periods when answering to allegations made by creditors and lodging exemption periods. The law may also be amended so as to not apply to farm mortgages that are secured by a guarantor that is subject to a bankruptcy petition. It has also been suggested that the FDMA be clarified to ensure that subsequent mediations are not needed for a farmer’s default under agreements giving effect to the mediation, such as a contract or mortgage document.

The FDMA may also specify the methods in which a mediator is to be chosen to be prescribed by regulation, and may require the provisions of mortgage documents and correspondence to either the mediator or creditors during proceedings.

What does this mean for farmers?
The ability of guarantors to be notified and participate in mediation may relieve the burden upon farmers to claim protection of the FDMA by establishing the Act applies.

Farmers may be limited to which farm debts can be mediated, with certain machinery excluded.

The farmer may have new thresholds and requirements to establish they are a primary producer or involved in Agriculture, Aquiculture or Forestry and Logging as part of the ANZSIC Code.

Under the proposed changes, If the subject of the farm debt covers land in multiple states, farmers may no longer be required to submit claims in multiple jurisdictions.

Farm mortgages that are solely secured by a guarantor who is subject to a bankruptcy petition is unable to gain protection under the FDMA.

Farmers may no longer have the responsibility of nominating a mediator to which the creditor must agree.

What does this mean for practitioners?

Lawyers need to encourage their clients to respond promptly in proceedings as the right of famers to respond to allegations made by the creditor under s 11 within 28 days may become a legal requirement.

Lawyers may need to assist their client in effectively showing cause in order to submit an exemption period, which stays proceedings for 6 months.

Lawyers also need to be aware if their client defaults on agreements that give effect to the mediation under the proposed changes, that a subsequent mediation may not be required.

Accurate records of all correspondence and relevant mortgage documents should be kept as they be required by the mediator and/or creditor during proceedings.

Despite the changes which may appear to limit the ability of farmers to mediate their debt, mediation is overall a relatively inexpensive and efficient process. Between 12 February 1995 and 30 December 2016, the RAA reported that out of the 1659 ‘satisfactory mediations’ that have been undertaken under the FDMA, 1487 mediations resulted in parties reaching an agreement. This is an agreement rate of 90%.

Ultimately it is worth being aware of proposed changes to ensure that farmers are aware of their rights and obligations in mediating their debts, resulting in efficient and quick resolutions.

So when it comes to Farm Debt and Mediation, it makes sense to talk to an accredited mediator under the National Mediation Accreditation System,  someone who is registered with the Mediator Standards Board and has professional training on how to help manage and mediate such disputes if you find yourself in such a situation, you have 21 days to act.

Sources:
Danny Jovica : Mediator Accredited under NMAS/MSB/AMA.

Barraket Stanton

Copper Grace Ward

Agriculture Victoria