Handling disputes in a co-operative

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A dispute can arise between:

  • a member and another member
  • a member and the co-operative.

Grievance procedure

A grievance procedure for resolving disputes must be included in the co-operative rules. The procedure must allow for natural justice to be applied.

A member may appoint any person to act on their behalf during the grievance procedure.

The Board is responsible for the conduct of employees of the co-operative. If a member has a complaint against an employee, the member must raise the issue with the Board.


Co-operatives can also try resolving disputes by involving a third party, such as the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria, or by seeking legal advice. To find an appropriate solicitor, contact the Law Institute of Victoria.

Application to the Magistrates' Court

A member or the co-operative can make an application to the Magistrates' Court for an order that declares or enforces:

  • the rights or obligations of members of the co-operatives between themselves
  • the rights or obligations of the co-operative and any member between themselves.

Oppressive conduct

The Registrar or a member of the co-operative can make an application to the Supreme Court if they believe the co-operative is conducting business in a way that is:

  • oppressive or unfairly prejudicial or discriminatory against a member
  • contrary to the interests of all the members.

The Supreme Court may make a range of orders, including:

  • making amendments to a co-operative's rules
  • requiring the co-operative or a person to do a specified thing
  • appointing an administrator for a co-operative
  • winding up a co-operative.

The Registrar

The Registrar can take action on any breaches of the Co-operatives National Law; however, the Registrar does not conciliate disputes between members, or between members and a co-operative under its rules.