All referrals to the Tribunal other than those filed pursuant to section 81A must follow the conciliation process (section 42B).
An initial teleconference between the parties/and or their solicitors will initiate the conciliation process. The purpose of this preliminary stage (section 42D) is to:
- identify the issues in dispute;
- ensure that any necessary investigations or medical examinations are arranged;
- determine the necessary steps for each party to take in order to resolve the claim;
- discuss the claim generally and obtain any concessions from the parties where possible;
- discuss the claim in preparation for a conciliation conference;
- discuss any other matter that may be relevant to achieving a speedy resolution of the claim.
There may be more than one teleconference prior to the parties agreeing that the matter is ready to be listed for the conciliation conference. The Conciliator will insofar as is possible ensure that the conciliation process proceeds without unnecessary delays.
If you are issued with a notice to attend a teleconference and you are represented (section 42H) please ensure that the Tribunal is aware of this prior to the listed date and time.
During the conciliation process all parties must provide the other parties to the dispute with any reports or proofs of evidence from medical practitioners or other expert witnesses they intend to rely on should the claim be referred for an arbitrated hearing. If a party fails to provide these documents they may not be able to use that evidence in an arbitrated hearing unless the Tribunal allows (section 42G).
All discussions held with a Conciliator during the conciliation process are confidential and without prejudice and a Conciliator's notes or other documents provided during the conciliation process are not disclosed to the Tribunal unless they are specific recommendations of the Conciliator to the Tribunal.
At any stage in the conciliation process, the Conciliator may discontinue the process and require the claim to proceed to an arbitrated hearing. This may occur if the Conciliator believes that the claim is for any reason unsuitable for conciliation (section 42L)
If a claim cannot be resolved in the preliminary stage, the Conciliator will schedule a conciliation conference. A notice will be served on all the parties which will state the date, time and place where the conference is to be held. A party who is served with a notice and fails to attend without reasonable excuse may be guilty of an offence for which penalties may apply (section 42E). If an adjournment of a teleconference or conciliation conference is required the person requiring the adjournment should first seek the consent of the other party. Contact should then be made with the Tribunal for approval of the adjournment.
During the conciliation process the Conciliator may direct a party (section 42I) to:
attend at a meeting with the Conciliator; and
provide, within a specified period, the Conciliator or another party with any documents or information the Conciliator considers may help resolve the claim; and
- attend at a conciliation conference at which the Conciliator and any other party is present.
The Conciliator may:
make any recommendation to the parties that he or she considers appropriate;
recommend to the Tribunal that it make an interim order in respect of any issue raised in the claim;
vary or revoke a direction or recommendation made by the Conciliator;
decline to make any direction or recommendation;
recommend that the Tribunal refer a medical question to a medical panel.
If a claim is resolved during conciliation the Tribunal will either close its file or refer the matter to the Tribunal for the making of an order giving effect to the resolution (section 42M).
If a claim is unresolved after conciliation the Conciliator is required to certify that the claim proceed to an arbitrated hearing (section 42K). If the Conciliator is of the opinion that any of the parties has not made a reasonable attempt to resolve the claim during the conciliation process he or she will give the Tribunal written notice of that fact.