Federal Complaints Process - Plain English

  • Your Complaint shoud be logged officilly via our online Complaint form and once completed, you will see a confirmation screen which states, 

    "Thank you - your complaint has been submitted.

     If you have additional evidence you have not been able to submit here, please email it to standardsofficer@libdems.org.uk

    Click exit to leave this form and return to the complaints section of our website."

    You will not be given a Complaint reference number until you receive our acknowledgement email.

  • The Standards Office will record the Complaint details in our Complaint Management system, Hoowla, and send an acknowledgemnet to the Complainant only. The next stage of the Complaint Process is to assess the Complaint and how it should progress through the relevant Complaints Procedures. This is why it is important for Complainants to substantiate their allegation(s) upfront when making their submission.

    Failure to substantiate your allegations may result in your Complaint being dismissed.

  • There are four possible pathways for a Complaint to progress that can be recommended by the Standards Office. These are: 

    1. Dismissal (with or without a Warning);
    2. Request for further information;
    3. Send to the Senior Adjudicators' Team to consider the suspension of the Respondent's membership before proceeding to a Panel Hearing;
    4. Send directly to a Panel Hearing.

    Recommendations are sent to the Lead Adjudicator on a regular basis (at least weekly) and are based on the details on the Complaint form and information provided by the Complainant.

    NOTE: The Respondent will still be unaware of the Complaint at this point.  

  • Once the Lead Adjudicator either confirms or amends the recommended pathway for each individual Complaint, the Standards Office will provide all parties with a copy of their decision. 

    This will be the first time that the Respondent will be notified of the Complaint.

  • If the Complaint is dismissed by the Lead Adjudicator, both parties to the Complaint will be provided with a 'Decision Notice' which will outline the rationale for the Complaint being dismissed. 

    A Complaint being dismissed does not mean that the allegations have been found to be untrue, frivilous or vexatious. A dismissal simply indicates that the allegations and/or evidence provided did not meet the threshold for engaging the Federal Complaints Process to the extent that a Panel is required to consider the Complaint. 

  • In exceptional circumstances, if a Complainant raises concerns about a Party member but fails to provide supporting evidence or testimony to substantiate their allegation(s), a request may be made to the Complainant for more information. Sometimes the request may be for specific information and the Complainant will be given seven days to provide this additional information.

    If information is provided within the deadline, the Complaint will be reviewed again by the Standards Office and Lead Adjudicator under paragraph 2.

    If no information is provided, the Complaint will be dismissed.

    NOTE: If you are the Complainant and feel that it would take you more than 7 days to obtain the information requested, please contact the Standards Office explaining how long you believe it may take to source the information and provide it to the Complaint. If you are unsure how long it will take you to provide the information, you will be invited to withdraw your COmplaint until such time you have sourced the requested information. 

  • The Senior Adjudicators' Team (SAT) is made up of representatives of each State Party. Their role, as a group, is to consider the Complaint taking into account the relevant articles within the Federal Constitution and State Party Constitution when reviewing a Complaint and whether the allegation warrant the suspnesion of the Respondent's membership.

    If the SAT decide to suspend the membership of the Respondent, this will be effective immediately until the conclusion of the Complaints Process. This type of suspension is termed, "Suspension without Prejudice".

    This notification will be shared with the Commplainant, Respondent and the Respondent's Local, Regional and State Party Chairs to allow the suspension to be enforced at all levels. Dependant on the circumstances, the SAT may feel it is necessary to notify other Party bodies/departments. 

  • From the date that the parties are notified of the intention of the Complaint to be progressed via a Panel, the Respondent is given 14 days in which to make any submission to address the allegation(s) and, if they choose to, raise a Counter-Complaint against the Complainant. A Counter-Complaint can be included within the submission(s) sent by the Respondent with the same deadline.

    The Complainant will not be able to add any additional information at this point. 

  • After the 14 day deadline has passed, the Panel will review the submissions from both parties to the Complaint. The Panel will have three options available to it: 

    1. Dismiss the Complaint based on the written submissions only.
      • If this is the case, the Panel will write a Decision Notice outining their reasoning for dismissing the Complaint. All parties to the Complaint will be given a copy of the Decision Notice. 
    2. Request that an Investigator is instructed to gather further information to help the Panel with their decision making before the Complaint (and Counter-Complaint, if relevant) progresses to a Panel Hearing.
      • If this is the case, the Standards Office will contact all parties and notify them of the intetion to instruct an Investigator. The Investigator will look to gather further information from all sides and interview relevant witnesses, if applicable.
    3. Progress the Complaint to a Panel Hearing.
      • If this is the case, the Panel will compile a Procedure Notice which will contain all relevant information for parties to attend. this will be distributed by the Standards Office. 

    Please note that the Complainant will not immediately receive a copy of the Respondent's submission(s). The Complainant will receive a copy of the Respondents submission at the same time as the notification for options 1 - 3 above are sent.

  • The Panel Hearing is where the Complainant and Respondent are invited to discuss the allegation(s) with the Panel. 

    In advance of any Hearing, the Complainant and Respondent are entitled to provide a list of questions to the Panel (via the Standards Office) they feel the Panel should ask of the other party to the Complaint. These must be recieved no later than 48 hours before the start of the Hearing to ensure that the Panel have time to consider adding any proposed questions to their already prepared list of questions. 

    Please note that this is not an adversarial process but rather an opportunity to make comments and ask questions directly to the Panel. There is no opportunity for the Complainant and Respondent to question each other. 

    Both parties are entitled to be accompanied by a supporter at the Hearing but the supporter will not be able to speak. 

    At the conclusion of the Panel Hearing, the Panel members will take time to consider the information already provided plus any testimony shared at the Hearing. They will compile a Decision Notice which wll be sent by the standards Office to relevant parties.  

  • A Review Panel will consider any appeals made against any Complaint that has been dismissed by the Complaints Process. 

    The Review Panel will consider an appeal based on the follwong criteria: 

    1. The decision made by the Panel was obviously incorrect;
    2. The decision did not take into account relevant evidence available to it;
    3. The Panel applied a sanction which was disproportionate to the harm caused.

    If any if the above criteria are met, the Review Panel will overturn the decision to dismiss the Complaint and provide a new pathway for the Complaint to progress. The options available are: 

    1. Request further information and then the Complaint will be reviewed again from Paragraph 2 onwards. 
    2. Send to the Senior Adjudicators Team for consideration of the suspension of the Respondent's membership before progressing to a Panel.
    3. Send directly to a Panel (or a new Panel if the dismissal decision was provided by a Panel).

    If the Review Panel find that none of the criteria are met, they will uphold the previous decision to dismiss the Complaint.

    The Review Panel consider all appeals at the same meeting and therefore no parties to a Complaint will be able to attend the meeting of the Review Panel. This means it is imperative that all information is provided at the point of submitting an appeal.

    Decisions of the Review Panel are final.

  • An Appeals Panel will consider any appeals made against any Complaint that has been upheld by the Complaints Process. 

    The Appeals Panel will consider an appeal based on the follwong criteria: 

    1. The decision made by the Panel was obviously incorrect;
    2. The decision did not take into account relevant evidence available to it;
    3. The Panel applied a sanction which was disproportionate to the harm caused.

    If any if the above criteria are met, the Appeals Panel will overturn the decision to dismiss the Complaint and may amend the original Panel's decision.

    If the Appeals Panel find that none of the criteria are met, they will uphold the previous decision to uphold the Complaint/enforce the recommended sanction.

    The Appeals Panel consider all appeals at the same meeting and therefore no parties to a Complaint will be able to attend the meeting of the Appeals Panel. This means it is imperative that all information is provided at the point of submitting an appeal.

    Decisions of the Appeals Panel are final.