Funding a dispute resolution scheme

Funding models for dispute resolution schemes range from full cost recovery to user pays, and from full funding by the state or industry to a shared arrangement.

Funding model

How any new dispute resolution scheme is going to be funded will be a major question.

There are a variety of funding models ranging from full cost recovery to user-pays, to full funding by the State or relevant industry, including options for shared funding arrangements.

You should consider whether the preferred funding model should be specified in legislation.

For example…

The amended Telecommunications Act 2001 specifies that the Ultra-Fast Broadband dispute resolution scheme shall charge a levy to providers (see section 155ZN).

Choosing a funding model

Which model is appropriate will depend on the context.

The decision is usually influenced by the degree to which the dispute resolution scheme is perceived as contributing to outcomes that are in the public interest, such as minimising industrial unrest, or whether it is mainly meeting the needs of private individuals.

Schemes set up to address disputes arising in particular industries will generally be funded by industry members, often through fees or a levy system.

Costs can be a barrier

Costs can be a barrier to entry so careful thought needs to be given to the appropriate fee levels. Full cost recovery arrangements can significantly reduce parties’ ability to access dispute resolution. Nominal filing fees can, however, be an effective way of deterring frivolous claims.

Treasury and the Office of the Auditor-General have guidance on charging fees in the public sector that may be relevant.