What happens at a Conciliation/Arbitration Conference?

If the matter is unable to be resolved at the telephone conference, the Arbitrator will list the matter for a Conciliation/Arbitration hearing. The Conciliation/Arbitration is appointed at a time which is suitable to the Arbitrator and both Lawyers. This usually occurs within two to three months following the telephone conference or can be longer if no dates are available.

You are required to attend the Conciliation/Arbitration hearing.

Also in attendance will be the independent Arbitrator appointed by the Workers Compensation Commission, your Lawyer, the insurer or their Lawyer and any witnesses that may be necessary. This is a face to face meeting in a conference room. It is informal and is a chance to discuss the matter between the parties before the Arbitrator makes a decision. The conference has two phases:-

1. Conciliation phase:

The first is the conciliation phase, where the Arbitrator summarises the dispute and holds informal discussions with the parties about the dispute. They discuss whether there is any room to negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to all. This is an informal process and involves a general discussion about the claim. Often the matter can be resolved during the conciliation phase.

2. Arbitration phase:

If the conciliation phase is unsuccessful, then the matter proceeds immediately to the Arbitration phase. Arbitration is run like a mini court. The proceedings are recorded but still remain fairly informal. The Arbitrator will outline the issues in dispute and, if necessary, take any evidence from witnesses. Evidence is usually only required in exceptional circumstances and where the Arbitrator requires clarification from the witness statements that have already been provided. The Lawyers are then requested to make closing comments about the decision that the Arbitrator should decide. The Arbitrator will then usually reserve the decision. The Arbitrator then has 21 days from the date of the Arbitration conference to make a written decision about the dispute.

Can I appeal the Arbitrator’s decision?

Yes, you are able to appeal the Arbitrator’s decision if you satisfy the following:-

  1. You must lodge an Appeal within 28 days of the date of the Arbitrator’s decision.
  2. An appeal cannot be made unless the amount of compensation at issue is at least $5,000.00 or at least 20% of the amount awarded in the decision; and
  3. There must be some unfairness, error or failure to provide adequate reasons on behalf of the Arbitrator for an appeal to proceed.