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Handling disputes and conflicts

Understanding the law involved will help your organisation have the best outcome.

Content last updated 12/12/2022

Handling disputes and conflicts

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Handling disputes and conflict

Disputes and conflicts can be stressful. Understanding the law involved will help your organisation have the best outcome, and could ensure action taken can’t be challenged later.  

Our resources cover both internal and external disputes and conflicts that your not-for-profit organisation may face. 

Internal disputes are the disputes that occur between management, between the board and members, between members, and even between employees. 

External disputes are where your organisation as a whole is in a conflict situation with another person or organisation, such as a service provider, a landlord, a client, a partner or someone who believes they have suffered loss because of your organisation (such as through negligence or defamation). 


It’s very important to take proper steps when disputes arise.  In disputes and conflicts, especially where there are significant risks or your organisation is being taken to court, you may need the assistance of a lawyer who can help. 

Being taken to court

If you have received letters or documents that look like someone is trying to take your not-for-profit organisation to court, don't delay acting in response. Often, tight timeframes apply for defending legal actions so you need to understand the basics and get legal advice as soon as possible. 
Our fact sheet 'Being taken to court' covers: 

  • how you will find out that legal action is being taken against your organisation 
  • what you should do about the legal action 
  • the costs of going to court, and  
  • court forms and notices  that your organisation might receive 
Being taken to court

More information 

You can use mediation to try and resolve a dispute. This may be a more cost effective approach. For more information go to our resources on mediation

Responding to a subpoena

A subpoena is an order issued by a court or tribunal in response to a request by a party to a civil or criminal proceeding requiring another person to attend that court or tribunal to give evidence, or to produce a document or thing in that other person's possession, or both. 

There are many different courts and tribunals in Australia and each has its own different rules for dealing with subpoenas. 

Our fact sheet below sets out information on subpoenas and how to respond to them.

Responding to a subpoena

More information

The content on this webpage was last updated in November 2022 and is not legal advice. See full disclaimer and copyright notice.

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