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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself

Preparing for mediation - Step by step guide

There are seven steps you need to take to prepare for mediation at the Federal Circuit Court:

​​​Step by step guide iconP​reparin​g for m​ediation - Step by step guide

Step 1: Check the​ time and​ date for the mediation.

What if I can't make it th​at day? 

If there is a very good reason why you cannot be available, contact the Federal Circuit Court straight away.

What if I am ru​nning late? 

It is important to be on time. If you are running late, you should call the court as soon as possible to let the registrar mediating your case know.

How long wi​​ll it take? 

Make sure you plan to be at the court for a while. Mediation can last all day. You may need to arrange time off work, or child care.

Hint icon  If you need an interpreter you should contact the Federal Circuit Court Registry as soon as possible. The Registry may be able to provide an interpreter for you.

Step 2​​​: Read the employer's response carefully.

What is a res​​​ponse? 

A response is a document your employer should have filed after you served your application and claim. You should have received the response before the first directions hearing.

Make sure you read the employer's response to your application and claim carefully. This will help you understand what the employer is saying about your case. Make sure you also read any documents the employer has attached. Compare them with your documents.

If your employer has claimed there is a problem with your application (for example, that it was made outside the time limit) you should get legal advice about this.

Step 3: Understan​d how the law applies to your case

You should prepare for mediation so that you can get the most out of it.

Read about general​ protections

Read the materials on this website:

Find out if you are owed any ​money

You should also find out whether your employer owes you money, like:

  • payments you are entitled to if you weren't given notice of the dismissal (sometimes called payments "in lieu" of notice)
  • underpaid wages
  • leave payments or leave loading
  • long service leave or other statutory entitlements
  • redundancy payments (if your position was made redundant but you have made a general protections application because you think your employer breached laws about general protections by choosing you for redundancy).

At mediation, you can ask for these amounts to be paid to you. This could be part of a settlement agreement. For help finding out if you are owed any money, see Finding employment law. If you need more help, you should get legal advice.

Get advice on Centrelink and other pay​ments

You should also make sure you get advice on any other issues that might affect your case, for example:

  • if you are on Centrelink benefits, you should get advice on whether any compensation your employer agrees to pay you will affect your benefits.
  • if you are on WorkCover, you should get advice on whether any compensation your employer agrees to pay you will affect your workers compensation payments.

Get legal ​advice 

You should get legal advice. You can talk to a solicitor about:

  • the strength of your case
  • what you might get if you went to hearing
  • whether you are owed any other amounts of money
  • the effect of any payments on your Centrelink or other payments.

If you want a lawyer to represent you at mediation, you should arrange this as soon as possible.

Who can com​​e with me? 

It is a good idea to take a friend or relative to mediation with you for support if you can. When organising the mediation, ask the registrar if you are allowed to have a support person attend with you. This will help if you are angry or need to discuss any offers with someone. A support person will also help if you feel intimidated by your employer or their lawyer.

Can I have ​a lawyer? 

If you are represented by a lawyer, your lawyer must attend the mediation at the Federal Circuit Court. If you want a lawyer, you will have to organise one. For information and assistance finding a lawyer, see Getting more help.

Step 4: Th​ink about what you want to end the dispute

What do I w​​​ant? 

Think about how you want to end the dispute. Do you want:

  • reinstatement (to get your job back)
  • compensation (money for the wages you have lost, and for pain and suffering)
  • a reference or statement of service
  • the termination of your employment to be recorded as a resignation
  • something else, like an agreement that you and the employer will not say bad things about each other.

Some things to consider:

  • Compensation is usually worked out as the number of weeks of wages. If you want to ask for compensation, you should decide how many weeks wages you are asking for.
  • Make sure you know your usual weekly gross wages (before tax). If you get paid fortnightly, you will need to divide your wage in half to get the weekly amount. If you regularly get extra allowances or payments and you want to claim these as well, make sure you have a record of these amounts.
  • If your employer says that your position has been made redundant, you should check whether you have been paid redundancy payments and any other entitlements.
  • If your employer owes you other amounts of money, for example for underpaid wages, make sure you work out the dollar figure of what you are owed.
  • You would not be able to get an order for a reference if you went to a hearing. If you want a reference or statement of service you should write down what you would like to be in it so you can explain what you want to the employer at mediation.

For each option, think about whether it is realistic. For example, it might not be realistic to ask for reinstatement if you worked for a very small business.

Think about:

  • whether you would agree to less to settle your case at mediation without going to hearing
  • whether you would be willing to go back to working for your employer (it can sometimes be difficult to go back to working together after a serious conflict)
  • whether some things might be worth more to you than others. For example, if a statement of service helps you to get a new job quickly, this might be worth more to you than a few weeks wages.

For a handy tool to help you prepare your thoughts, see Preparing for mediation - Worksheet.

Step 5: Work out what your legal costs and expense​s are

What are legal costs and expense​s? 

Legal costs usually refer to the costs of hiring a lawyer. Expenses might include costs such as your filing fee, photocopying costs, and the costs of subpoenas.

If you have a lawyer, you should ask your lawyer to prepare a bill for all your costs and expenses up to and including the day, or days, of mediation. That way you will be able to work out how much you have to pay your lawyer before accepting any offers.

Alert Icon You generally can't claim for your time in running your case and representing yourself at court or mediation. That means you can't claim for lost wages because you couldn't go to work on the day you went to mediation.

Step 6​: Organise your documents

You should put all the documents about your case together. You should have these with you during the mediation so that you can quickly find any information or documents you need.

What should I t​ake? 

You will need:

  • Your notes and/or completed Preparing for mediation - Worksheet
  • A copy of your application
  • A copy of the employer's response
  • Copies of your most recent pay slips
  • A chronology (if you prepared one)
  • Letters or emails from your employer to you about your work performance and/or dismissal.

You have already explained your complaint in your application and claim forms. Take the time to read these again and see if there is anything you have left out or anything else you think you want to explain in more detail. If you have made a mistake in your application or claim, you should get legal advice.

If you have not included dates for conversations, meetings or emails, make a note of these now.

Step 7: Go t​o mediation

Find out where to​ go

Check with the Federal Circuit Court registry where you have to go to attend mediation. Find out what time it starts and when it is expected to finish.

Work out how you will​​ get there

If you are going to drive, find out if there is any parking nearby, and how much it costs. You don't want to arrive late for mediation because you couldn't find a parking spot. If you are going to use public transport, check timetables and make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

What should I ​take? 

Take a notepad and some pens so you can write things down and take notes. Take a bottle of water and some food. Take a mobile phone with you just in case you want to call someone to discuss a settlement offer.

For more information on what to expect at mediation, see Going to mediation.

For answers to commonly asked questions, see Going to the Federal Circuit Court - Frequently Asked Questions.