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Dairy industry dispute resolution 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Dairy Inquiry report recommended that the industry establish an independent body  to mediate and arbitrate contractual disputes between dairy farmers and processors, and particularly collective bargaining groups and processors.

Dispute Resolvers is a private dispute resolution body that delivers independent mediation and arbitration processes and legally trained resolution providers to assist industries with the resolution of contractual disputes and disagreements.

A Dairy Industry Code has now been passed by the Federal Government which requires all milk supply agreements between farmers and processors to be in writing and  compliant with the provisions and prohibitions in the Code and published on the company website by 1st June each year.

Negotiating your Milk Supply Agreement

The Dairy Code requires that a milk supply agreement must provide both a complaints handling procedure and a mediation process to resolve disputes that arise between farmers and processors.

Mediation is a facilitated negotiation with a neutral person used in every industry code, court and tribunal.

Arbitration is a private determinative process conducted according to law by a legally trained independent expert.

The ACCC recommended that processors include detailed dispute resolution clauses in farmer contracts that allow for binding determination or arbitration. But the Dairy Code does not require it, only suggesting that contracts may provide for arbitration.

Parties can ensure that disputes can be legally, fairly and finally resolved, by including an arbitration procedure and clear rules in the milk supply agreement.

We can assist processors and dairy farmers with advice and assistance in working through and settling the the terms of their agreement. 

Resolving Dairy Disputes

Once the Milk Supply Agreement is in place any disagreements that arise are resolved in relation to the procedures specified in the agreement.

We assist processors and dairy farmers get their disputes resolved – FAST.

STEP 1: Use our FREE online service to send your Notice of Complaint to the other party. You can prepare your notice electronically, sign it, attach your documents and we will email it to the parties you nominate, automatically to begin complaint handling procedures.

STEP 2: If the complaint is not resolved within the 60-day period allowed by the Dairy Code – request mediation. We are experts in collaborative practice, can select an accredited mediator and conduct the mediation process by video conferencing service.

STEP 3: If you need a binding determination according to law, request Arbitration. Even if your milk supply agreement does not provide for arbitration, the parties may agree in another written document to use arbitration to resolve their disputes.

derek minus

Dairy Dispute Resolver

Derek Minus is the Dairy Dispute Resolver.
He can help to resolve your Dairy dispute NOW.

As the former Commonwealth government mediation Adviser for the franchising industry, he assisted hundreds of franchise partners resolve their disputes.

As a barrister, accredited mediator and chartered arbitrator, he knows how the Dairy Code works and has the skills to personally assist you.

Mediation services are provided at the same rate specified by the Commonwealth Government of $300 per hour (plus GST). Arbitration is offered as a fixed time/fixed price service.

Under the Code, each party pays half the fees.


Service and Support Conflict that can affect your livelihood and value of your franchise can be stressful. We provide the facilities and personal support to get you into resolution quickly.

Need a conciliated agreement? He can be nominated or call upon over 100 mediators Australia-wide who he can refer for appointment by the parties to conduct the mediation of your dispute.

Want an adjudicated decision? With the agreement of the parties the expense and delay of the court system can be avoided with a private arbitration. We provide a fixed-price fixed-time service so you have certainty.

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The Dairy Code, the Dairy Plan, Milk Supply Agreements and Dispute resolution services.

We Can Help

Help with Milk Supply Agreements

We work with farmers and processors to develop complaint handling procedures before disputes occur.

Attend a Seminar or Join a Webinar

Invite us to present at your next Dairy seminar event or come and join our online remote learning video webinar.

Use our Website

We post information to help your understanding and provide an automated on-line service for you to quickly lodge and pursue a complaint.

Need a complaint handling officer?

We can provide processors with an external complaint handling function to manage complaints  and comply with all reporting obligations.

3-STEPS to Resolve your DAIRY dispute

with our video-conferencing service

Start the Resolution Process


FROM ‘START’ TO ‘FINISH’ we administer your complaint to ensure a speedy resolution.

We use on-line processes to facilitate communications and the provision of documents electronically.

After you file any Notice or request we immediately email it on your behalf, to all other persons that need to receive it.

 Video-conferencing services are available for the conduct of the mediation conference and arbitration hearing and are provided at no additional cost.

Proceed to Mediation or Arbitration and we will:
• contact each party to discuss the complaint and the preferred outcome

• refer the parties to a skilful, accredited and experienced mediator or arbitrator

• engage the mediator and arbitrator and set the fee for the conduct of the process

• confirm the conference time / date and arrange an appropriate venue

• provide our standard ADR Rules for the conduct of the mediation or arbitration to give the parties certainty of the process steps and legal protections provided.

The costs of complaint resolution and legal services are always a concern to parties given the formality, slow pace and expense of court related proceedings.

We work to promote efficiency and provide mediation services at the Commonwealth approved hourly rate, see Mediation costs. Arbitration (akin to court determination) involving legal expertise is arranged at a fixed fee, stated upfront. See Arbitration costs.

A single administration fee is charged for the provision of our services. For mediation this is the same as the Commonwealth charge for other Code processes. For arbitration it is included as part of the stated fee for the entire fixed time process.

Get a Mediator to assist with resolution

Once a party lodges a Notice of Complaint it initiates the complaint handling process in the milk supply agreement.

If the complaint is not resolved at the end of the 60-day period allowed for negotiation, either party can request a mediator be appointed to facilitate the discussion and manage resolution of the complaint.

The mediator is an independent and professional facilitator, usually a practising lawyer who has been nationally accredited to mediate matters in federal and state courts.

Once the mediation agreement that will govern the process has been signed between the parties, the mediator will set the date and time for the mediation, the other party:

  • must attend the mediation
  • must negotiate in good faith
  • must pay half of the mediation fees.

The mediation process is both privileged and confidential. This allows the parties to talk frankly and openly with each other and with their lawyers present (if required). With the mediator’s assistance, the parties aim to design an outcome to resolve the problem as discussed and defined by the parties.

MULTIPLE farmers in dispute with a single milk processor

Dairy farmers from the same district or with similar milk supply agreements with a single processor can find that they share common complaints.

We can assist with organising multi-party mediations that contain the costs and ‘level the playing field’.

Bringing multi-party disputes is supported by the ACCC as it assists to shift the imbalance of bargaining power that exists between parties when resolving disputes.

We have the skills to service and support large numbers of parties avoid the legal wars and explore the resolution opportunities.

Request multi-party mediation and we:

  • – administer the dispute process
  • – contact all of the parties,
  • – arrange the date and time to meet,
  • – organise a mediator/s as required,
  • – manage the distribution of information, 
  • – handle polls on outcomes and voting on agreements.

Dispute not resolved, want a Determination? Request Arbitration.

The Dairy Code provides a mechanism for a party to request a binding determination. If after the mediation is conducted, there is no resolution, both parties if they agree, can request an Arbitrator be appointed to deliver an award about the merits of each party’s case.

The separate processes of mediation and arbitration can be combined into a single, unified med-arb procedure.

Where an arbitration is conducted, the arbitrator has the power to investigate (unlike court judges) and the capacity to award remedies, compensation, interest and costs.

Arbitration is an important process that is used in State government tribunals to resolve hundreds of thousands of consumer disputes each year.

How does a party go about requesting and organising an arbitration:
• Who is the arbitrator?
• What are their qualifications and skills?
• How long will it take?
• What will it all cost?

Most importantly what are the Arbitration procedural rules and how will the process be managed? The Dairy Code is silent on all of these matters.

That is why we supply our own ADR Arbitration Rules™. We fill in the gaps left by the legislation and can deliver an arbitration process that works.

Plus we offer a fixed price-fixed time arbitration that delivers the benefits of a court process with the flexibility of a mediation. As a Federal Senate committee recently said:

“Arbitration is cheaper and more flexible than pursuing court action and this is important in any attempt to deliver a just outcome in a timely fashion at a reasonable price.”