The contract of sale is a short document, but it incorporates statutory conditions that apply when there is a dispute between the parties. Disputes about contracts are settled by the courts according to these conditions and the terms of the contract.
There are alternatives to litigation in the courts. The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) provides a Conveyancing Disputes Panel, which determines disputes between lawyers (typically, a lawyer for a vendor and a lawyer for a buyer) about conveyancing law practice. The service costs $100 (plus GST). It is a very efficient mechanism for resolving conveyancing disputes and does not require appearances by the parties or representatives.
Arbitration of disputes about measurements: A dispute about measurements of the land is governed by the terms of the contract. If the contract is silent, the statutory conditions apply, under which a dispute about measurements goes to arbitration. An arbitration can be as expensive as a court action.
Mediation: Many contracts contain a clause that enables the parties to any dispute to take the dispute to a mediator. Even if the contract says nothing, parties can still take their dispute to a mediator. The LIV gives advice about who is a qualified mediator and the standard charges, or the parties can choose their own mediator from the ranks of professional mediators. In a mediation each party decides whether the outcome is suitable, and the process can bring about a cheap and timely resolution of a dispute without expensive litigation.
Information on options for alternative dispute resolution can be obtained by telephoning the Law Institute of Victoria on 9607 9311, or visit the website (at www.liv.asn.au/).