Office of the Franchising Mediation Advisor

This is the official website of the Office of the Franchising Mediation Adviser (OFMA) established under the Franchising Code of Conduct.

The Franchising Mediation Adviser is appointed by the Commonwealth government, to assist franchisors and franchisees resolve their disputes under the Code, without having to go to court. The OFMA maintains a panel of experienced and qualified mediators in each state and on request of either the franchisor or franchisee, the Adviser appoints mediators who can assist the parties in resolving their disputes.

The Code, is a mandatory code prescribed by regulation under s. 51AE of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The aim of the Code is to improve the transparency and clarity of commercial transactions and reduce the costs of disputes that occur in the franchising industry.

As the OFMA is funded by the federal government, there is no charge to contact the OFMA and discuss your dispute, enquire about the resolution service or request that a suitable mediator be identified and appointed to resolve your dispute. The mediator’s fees, which are capped by agreement are paid by the parties.

Dispute Resolution Service

The Franchising Mediation Adviser provides mediation services under the Franchising Code. If you are a franchisee or a franchisor involved in a dispute, you can get assistance here.

You can contact the OFMA by making a free telephone call to 1800 472 375 to discuss your complaint, find out what assistance is available and whether the Code applies to your business relationship. You can also complete the On-Line Enquiry to lodge your complaint for immediate attention.

If you are a franchisee or a franchisor involved in a dispute and decide to use the Code’s dispute resolution process, then the Code requires that the other party must comply. In the first instance, the Code requires the parties to attempt to resolve their dispute by negotiation and, if that fails, to participate in mediation.

The Mediation Adviser has established a panel of qualified and skilled mediators to provide low cost mediation services under the Code. At your request, an industry experienced mediator can be appointed to assist with the resolution of the dispute under the Code. You can request that a mediator be appointed to assist with the resolution of your dispute by making a Request for a Mediator Appointment.

Mediation under the Code

A mediator is an independent third party, who will work with the franchisee and the franchisor to try and resolve their dispute. Mediators do not give legal advice nor make decisions like a judge; instead they assist the parties to come together and negotiate an outcome that is acceptable to all of them.

 Who are the mediators?

They are usually industry participants, people with franchising experience and lawyers who have been trained and accredited under the National Mediator Accreditation standards and have years of practical experience in assisting people resolve their disputes collaboratively.

The Adviser maintains a panel of experienced and accredited mediators.

The Adviser will appoint a mediator from the panel, usually dependent on the state in which the parties want the mediation to be held. Once appointed, the mediator decides:
• how the mediation will be carried out
• the time and place for the mediation (subject to the requirement that it must be conducted in Australia), and
• the date on which the mediation commences, for the purpose of the Code.

The parties must attend the mediation and negotiate in good faith, or could face a civil penalty. Either party may be assisted or represented at the mediation instead of attending in person. However, their representative must have the authority to enter into an agreement to settle the dispute.

Legal Advice

The Code and the franchise agreement are legal documents and contain specific protections requiring each party to the franchise relationship, to take various actions. It may also be necessary to consider whether the relationship is even governed by a “franchising” agreement.

Where difficulties occur, it is recommended that the parties consider consulting a lawyer who can provide specific advice. The OFMA and the Adviser cannot provide legal advice as part of the appointment service, neither can the mediator.