Complaints: Policy and procedure

The Resolution policy and procedure for members who wish to raise concerns about colleague members.

Principles

The Resolution Policy in relation to concerns and complaints is based on the following principles:

  • We will make sure the earliest possible resolution is sought to any concern or complaint and that it provides a fair and appropriate outcome for you and our member, whether by formal or informal methods.
  • We will respond to you and our member in line with the vision, mission, and values of the organisation and our Code of Practice, all of which emphasise the need for respect, objectivity, honesty and integrity.
  • We will treat you and any member with respect and fairness, and with due regard to the confidentiality of sensitive or legal information.
  • We will consider each complaint without reference to race, religion, belief, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.
  • We will ensure what we do, and the decisions we make, are transparent and reasoned and we will promptly inform you, and the member involved, of the progress we make.
  • We will make sure you, and any member, have the chance to put forward any concerns fully and that you, and they, are listened to.
  • We will do all we can to minimise the stress of the process and will offer personal support to you and our member throughout.
  • We will reflect upon, and try to learn from, each complaint so we can continue to promote and encourage high standards of practice by our members.

Purpose

The procedure aims to:

  • Be accessible, clear, and straightforward.
  • Encourage a cooperative and conciliatory resolution of any concern or complaint, as soon as can be achieved.
  • Be efficient and within published timescales wherever possible.
  • Ensure full, fair, and balanced consideration of complaints.
  • Respect your confidentiality and the duty of our members to respect and protect that confidentiality.
  • Respect our members, their right to be treated fairly and in a balanced way and to be properly assisted to respond to, and – where possible and appropriate – resolve any complaint at an early stage.
  • Provide an effective and appropriate response, and an outcome that is within the limits what we are able to do.
  • Protect, improve and promote the high standards of practice required of Resolution’s members.
  • Contribute to Resolution’s performance goals and measurement in relation to the good practice of its members.
  • Identify areas of weakness, in order to support Resolution’s members’ development and improvement.

The purpose of the procedure is to provide an informal route to discuss your concerns and a formal route through which you can bring a complaint to the attention of Resolution.

Who and what we can and can’t take complaints about

We take all complaints seriously.

We can take complaints where:

  • The person you would like to make a complaint about is a current member of Resolution
  • Proceedings (and, in some cases, correspondence) are at an end
  • The issue you’d like to complain about happened within the last 12 months
  • Any outstanding report/s to organisations such as the SRA or Office of the Legal Ombudsman have been answered by them

If we can’t formally investigate, we will tell you why that is and help you work out if there are any other options open to you. We will provide you with information and signposting to the relevant support services. We can also inform our member about your concerns.

We are unable to investigate any complaints about our associate members. Complaints about an associate member of Resolution should be referred to their regulatory or governing, or membership body for investigation in the first instance. We will help you find the right organisation if we can. If the complaint is upheld by their governing body and we are notified of the outcome our Practice Standards Panel will consider the outcome and whether their membership of Resolution should be terminated as a result.

We ask that everyone involved respects the principles of fairness, honesty, integrity, and respect. We are unable to continue to deal with complaints where it becomes clear there has been bullying, harassment, or malicious or abusive behavior towards a member or member of staff. We also reserve the right to report any behaviour of this type to the appropriate authority where it is necessary to protect the safety of Resolution’s members, volunteers, staff or those involved in the complaints process. We will follow our Unacceptable Behaviour policy and procedure in these circumstances.

Voicing Your Concerns

When you’re ready to make a complaint the first step is to raise your concerns with our member directly. When you contact them, ask them to respond within in a reasonable period. They may ask you to contact someone else in their firm, such as the person responsible for handling complaints. If you are unable to resolve your concerns with them, the next step is to contact us

When you first contact us, one of our team, usually the Complaints Manager will contact you to discuss your concern or complaint and consider next steps with you; including whether the formal procedure can or should be used.

The informal route provides an opportunity for you to discuss your concerns with us and explore how we may be able to help to resolve or record them. All concerns can be dealt with informally and is the starting point for any complaint or concern.

If it isn’t possible to resolve your complaint or concern informally, we have a formal process to follow. From the very beginning we will discuss with you what we can do, the limits of our procedure, and what you might expect as an outcome.

Formal Procedure

  1. In the event you wish to make a formal complaint, you will be asked to submit a complaint form to us. We can assist you with completing the form. We will acknowledge receipt within seven days.

 

  1. We will assess your complaint, speak to you to if we need any further details, and discuss the outcome you hope for with you.

 

  1. If we are unable to deal with your complaint, we will tell you why and discuss informal assistance we can provide. We will also help you identify any further sources of help or assistance. The process will end here in these circumstances.

 

  1. In exceptional circumstances, for instance if a regulator has already has made a decision against our member, we will reserve the right to refer the matter to our Practice Standards Panel (PSP) to consider whether the complaint can proceed, even if the usual requirements are not met. The decision of the Panel will be final in these exceptional circumstances.

 

  1. Once we know we can take your complaint we will ask you whether you wish the details of your complaint to be sent to our member so that they might provide a response. We will also provide you with support information, where appropriate.

 

  1. If you agree, the completed form (and any attachments) will be forwarded to the member concerned with a letter asking for a response. We expect our member to respond within a reasonable time (and not more than 21 days at the discretion of our Complaints Manager). We will provide the member with information about what is expected by way of a response. At this stage we ask for an explanation about their actions and the reasons for them so this can be provided to you. Information will also be provided to the member about the Resolution Mentoring Scheme for their support and assistance.

 

  1. We will also arrange to speak to the member involved, to discuss the complaint, how they might best respond in all the circumstances, and your view on the possible outcome.
  2. Within seven days of receiving the response from our member, we will forward their response to you and will ask you to:
  • Confirm whether you are satisfied with the response.
  • If you are not satisfied, whether you would like the matter referred to the independent Practice Standards Panel for them to consider.
  • Whether there is anything else you think might help to bring about a resolution.
  • We ask you to provide your reply within 21 days of receiving the member’s response. If you are satisfied with their response the process will end at this stage.

 

  1. In the event that you would like your complaint forwarded to the Practice Standards Panel, we will send the original complaint and response, together with any relevant assessment or comment for the panel to consider at their next meeting. We will only provide papers you and the members have seen to the Practice Standards Panel. We protect your identity – and our member’s identity – by removing personal details, e.g. names and addresses, from these documents.

 

  1. The Practice Standards Panel meets regularly throughout the year and we will inform you, and the member concerned, of the date the panel will receive and assess your complaint and responses. The panel will provide an outcome statement as a result of their discussions. Please see stage 14 for the possible outcomes they can decide upon.

 

  1. Within seven days of receiving the outcome statement from the panel, we will forward it to you and to the member concerned. At this point you (and our member) will have 21 days to consider and confirm whether the findings of the panel are acceptable to both of you (please see stage 14 for the possible outcomes). If you are both satisfied with the outcomes the procedure will end here. If either you or our member aren’t satisfied, the next steps are outlined in stage 12.
  2. If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome we will ask you to complete an appeal form so you can set out the reasons why you disagree, or are not content, with the decision of the Practice Standards Panel. If the member isn’t satisfied, they can also complete an appeal form. The completed form will be sent to an independent appeals officer. The appeals officer will take the following steps:
  • They may contact you, the member, or both of you to discuss your reasons for not accepting the decision of the Practice Standards Panel.
  • They will consider whether the grounds for an appeal have been met and whether there is any reasonable prospect of an appeal succeeding. Grounds for an appeal include:
  • Procedural irregularity, i.e. this procedure has not been followed properly.
  • Irrelevant matters have been taken into account or something has been ignored.
  • A conclusion has been reached that is plainly wrong.
  • Any sanction is inappropriate.

If the Appeals Officer believes there are no grounds for appeal, they will bring the complaints process to an end, and will provide you and the member with their reasons and a confirmation of any next steps.

In the event of complaints about a Mediator a further appeal may be made to The Family Mediation Council for consideration.

  1. If there are grounds for appeal the Appeals Officer role is to:
  • Re-assess the documentation provided by you, the member concerned, and the Practice Standards Panel.
  • Decide whether to contact you, the member or the Complaints Manager to discuss the reasons for not accepting the findings of the Practice Standards Panel and to receive any further documentation or information to support those reasons.
  • Consider with each or both of you whether there are any reasonable means of reaching a resolution
  • Provide an assessment and recommendation to the Practice Standards Panel within 28 days of receiving the complaints papers. This assessment and recommendation will be considered to be final.

In the event of complaints about a Mediator a further appeal may be made to The Family Mediation Council for consideration.

  1. At any point in the process the member, Practice Standards Panel or Appeals Officer may agree on actions that must be taken (outcomes) as a result of your complaint. These are as follows:
  • An apology: If an apology is required, the member will be informed that an apology should be provided within 10 days of the date of notification to them.
  • Training: If training is required information will be provided to the member about the training or learning they should attend with the requirement that they must provide confirmation of attendance after the training has taken place (and, in any event, within three months).
  • Removal of accredited status: If the member holds Resolution accreditation, it is possible for this status to be removed. If we take this action, we will inform the member and ask them to remove any logos or references to their accreditation from their public materials within a set and reasonable timeframe.
  • Membership suspension: If it has been decided that their membership will be suspended for a period of time the member will be informed and will be told how long the suspension will last for.
  • Termination of membership: Where membership is terminated, the member will be informed and will also be told if any further action, such as notifying other regulatory bodies, is to be taken by Resolution. The member will be asked to remove the Resolution logo and any reference to Resolution membership from all their public materials including any website. We will record the termination of membership and, should the member reapply, their future applications for membership will be given to the Practice Standards Panel so they can make a decision about readmission and any conditions to be met prior to re-admission. In any event, reapplication will not be considered within 12 months of termination.
  • Where necessary, we will also inform the member that we will take further action, such as notifying other regulatory bodies or notifying their Regional Resolution Chair of any decision that is made.

All relevant information in regard to outcome will also be provided to you.

  1. If, at any point throughout the process, you are unhappy with the decisions that have been made – and particularly if you have received the final decision of the independent appeals officer – we will ask you to provide feedback so we can monitor our performance and inform future complaints handling. Your comments will be passed to the Standards Committee and Practice Standards Panel for their information. If the process has come to an end no further response, other than an acknowledgement, will be provided by the Panel or by Resolution.

Please note that in the event of termination of membership the member’s Regional Chair will be informed, in confidence, of the termination of membership. The Practice Standards Panel can also make a recommendation that the outcome should be suitably redacted and published in Resolution’s Membership Journal, The Review, or on the website; the wording of any publication would be approved by the Practice Standards Panel before publication to protect identities and appropriate confidentiality as far as possible.

Please note: This policy and procedure replaces both the previous Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures referred to and detailed in the Articles of Association (last amended 13th April 2013). Where issues of conduct (whether in association with a claimed breach of the Code of Practice or as a stand-alone issue) arise as part of any complaint and which may require suspension or termination of membership, the procedure set out here will apply. Full information about issues of conduct that need or are required to be dealt with by a regulatory body (which Resolution is not) is included within this policy and procedure.

 

Resolution reserves the right to alter, review and or amend this policy and procedure as necessary. Members will be informed of any alterations and amendments

Policy and procedure in force from April 2014, updated October 2020