Conciliation is a way to resolve a legal dispute without going to trial. A neutral third party, often a judge, may provide suggestions and develop proposals to help you and the other party come to an agreement. You and the other party may:
You and the other party can decide how to come to an agreement based on the judge's suggestions.
Any party in the dispute may request conciliation at any stage of the proceedings. However, all parties must agree to use conciliation to resolve the dispute.
A judge in the proceedings may also refer your case for conciliation at any time during any proceedings.
Conciliation can be helpful if any of the following applies to your case:
Understand the main differences between conciliation, mediation and trial.
Who drives the session
The judge can play an active role and may share advice and possible solutions about the dispute.
You and the other party will lead the discussion.
The judge will hear each party's evidence and submissions before making a decision on the case.
Control over the outcome
You and the other party may accept or reject suggestions or proposals by the judge.
You and the other party find solutions to the dispute and determine the terms of the settlement.
You and the other party must follow the judge's decision, subject to any appeal.
There are several benefits of choosing conciliation over trial.
Settling your dispute through conciliation will generally be less costly as it takes less time.
This means you will save on legal and court hearing fees that would have been spent on preparing for and going to trial.
In comparison, in a trial, you will give up control to a judge who makes a decision based on the evidence you provide.
Trials are generally open to the public while conciliation is done in private.
This means the discussions between parties during a conciliation session will be confidential. If you and the other party reach a settlement, you may also decide to keep the details of what you have agreed to confidential.
How you request conciliation depends on which court hears your case.
You may request conciliation by the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC).
If you wish to attend conciliation, file the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR)/Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Form (Form 2, Appendix A1, State Courts Practice Directions 2021) via “Request for CDR” on eLitigation. The form should confirm that all parties consent to conciliation and contain the parties’ available dates in the next two months to attend the conciliation.
If your application is accepted by the CDRC, you will receive a letter notifying you of the date, time and venue of your conciliation session. The other party will also receive this letter.
If you fail to attend the session without providing valid reasons, you will be deemed to be unwilling to attempt conciliation. If the case proceeds to a trial, the court may take such conduct into account when making costs orders. (1)
There are no fees for conciliation by the CDRC except for District Court cases where each party needs to pay $250.
Refer to this table for the exceptions and details:
Type of case
Cost of SCCDR conciliation
All Magistrate's Court cases
District Court cases:
All other District Court cases not mentioned above
Each party pays $250
If the other party is willing to attempt conciliation, they will file a Response to ADR Offer (Form 5) and serve a copy on you.
The court may then give directions for your case, such as to set a timeline for conciliation to complete, or to adjourn pending court proceedings. You will need to arrange for conciliation with a relevant organisation.
If the other party fails to respond to the ADR Offer, they will be deemed to be unwilling to attempt conciliation without providing any reasons. If the case proceeds to a trial, the court may take such conduct into account when making costs orders. (2)
The Supreme Court does not offer conciliation services. If the court approves your request, you need to arrange for conciliation with an organisation of your choice.