From 1 July 2019*, if a new complaint is made against a Lib Dem member, it will be handled under our new complaints’ procedure, which is consistent, clear and fit for purpose.
Federal Conference voted for this procedure at Brighton in Autumn 2018 and it has since been accepted by each of the state parties in England, Scotland and Wales. More than 400 people responded to call for volunteers. It is now time to implement it and we will be ready to hit the ground running from 1 July 2019.
Complaints should be reported to the Standards Officer at LDHQ who will record the details in the case management system and send it on to the Senior Adjudication Team or “SAT”. The SAT comprises a Senior Adjudicator from each state party and our Lead Adjudicator, Neil Christian. The four members of the SAT have many years’ experience in the party and a background in making decisions and dealing with complex problems.
When a case is first raised Neil will randomly assign it to one of at least 90 trained and impartial Adjudicators, who will assign any case which is more than frivolous to one of either the formal or informal routes. At the same time the SAT will decide whether the member complained about should be suspended from membership whilst the complaint is resolved.
The informal route – which is similar to mediation – should take around 2 months to complete. It is led by a trained and impartial Independent Person who aims to resolve disputes by talking things through with both parties, and potentially arranging a meeting between both parties to try and resolve the dispute. Often this kind of approach is resolved with an apology although sometimes some form of training may be mandated.
The formal route should take around 2-3 months to complete. A trained and impartial Investigator will investigate the complaint and submit a report to a panel made up of three Adjudicators. The parties to the complaint have the right to see this report and respond to it at the panel hearing. Evidence will be fully and fairly examined by the Adjudicators and they will make their decision on the balance of probabilities – i.e. is it more likely than not that the complaint should be upheld. If the complaint is upheld, the panel can suggest sanctions from training to expulsion. It is possible to appeal throughout the process.
The full procedure and guidance are available on the Party’s website here. The guidance addresses a number of concerns members have raised in more detail, including how we support parties to a complaint and ensure confidentiality and anonymity.
*Please note that any complaint already reported to the relevant State Party before 1 July will be handled under their current system.
State Party Membership Rules
Every member of the Liberal Democrats belongs to a State Party. The three State Parties are England, Scotland, and Wales. As a member of a State Party, you must abide by their own membership rules. If you fail to do so, the State Party may take action against you which could result in sanctions up to and including expulsion from the Party.
You can download each State Party's membership rules here.
Report into the processes and culture of the Liberal Democrats (Morrissey Report)
In 2013, Helena Morrissey produced an independent report in the processes and culture of the Liberal Democrats, and made recommendations for change. Her report can be downloaded here.