ACM Complaints Procedure
- There are a number of routes by which a complaint may be made. It may be made direct to the mediator, to the service desk or to a director. It may be verbal or written. Many complaints can be resolved quickly and informally and, if it seems appropriate to do so, the person who receives the complaint will try to resolve it immediately.
- Whether or not the complaint is resolved, the person who receives the complaint will report it to (at least one of) the directors. This should normally be in writing (or electronically).
- If the complaint can not be resolved immediately then the complainant should be encouraged to raise any problems direct with the mediator.
- If the mediator is not able to resolve the complaint then it should be referred to the directors who will nominate another mediator to act as conciliator.
- The conciliator will investigate the complaint and report to the directors. The way that the investigation is carried out will vary according to circumstances but it will normally involve:
- Contacting the complainant and mediator to discuss. The complainant should be contacted within 48 hours of the conciliator being appointed.
- Summarising the complaint and identifying the key issues.
- Agreeing relevant confidentiality parameters.
- Explaining the conciliator's role and powers.
- Investigating the issues fully and fairly.
- As appropriate, making further contact with the parties to the complaint and others (within the confines of confidentiality) by telephone, in writing and/or by meeting with them individually or together.
- The conciliator will try to resolve the issues to the parties' satisfaction.
- When the matter has been resolved the conciliator will write a report to the directors. If the matter cannot be resolved within 28 days of receiving the complaint then the conciliator will send the directors an interim report. The interim report will set out the conciliator's recommendations which may include, for example:
- A request for more time to investigate and resolve the issues.
- The conciliator's findings to date about the complaint and any stumbling blocks to resolution.
- Recommendations for resolution.
- Upon receipt of the conciliator's report the directors will decide on appropriate further action. This may involve, for example:
- Closing the complaint.
- Asking the conciliator to continue the investigation and conciliation.
- Nominating another mediator to continue the investigation or take over the
- Nominating another mediator, or an independent person, or a panel, to conduct a fresh investigation.
- Requesting further reports as appropriate.
- The directors may agree to nominate a single director to undertake their functions under this complaints procedure.
- If the complaint is about the service desk then this procedure may need to be modified but it may still be appropriate to appoint a conciliator as above.
Service that parties can expect under this complaints procedure
It is recognised that what is required may vary according to the circumstances of the complaint. Handling a complaint well can help to prevent it becoming a secondary dispute (and source of stress to the complainant and mediator). Those involved in a complaint can expect:
- Positive attitude. All complaints will be handled in a positive, open minded and honest manner.
- Timescales. Complaints will be handled promptly. Initial contact should ordinarily be made within 48 hours of receiving the complaint. Thereafter timescales should be agreed and adhered to. Speed is normally essential to ensure memories are fresh. However, it can take time to investigate an issue thoroughly. It may sometimes be necessary to allow time for reflection or a cooling off period.
- Explaining the process. The complaints process should be easy to use and should be clearly explained to the complainant and the mediator. This is also an opportunity to manage expectations.
- Thorough investigation. The complaint will be investigated fully and fairly.
- Confidentiality. Confidentiality will be respected. If this is likely to limit the investigation then this must be explained to the complainant.
"Carolyn was very fair and experienced. She used excellent listening and reflecting skills and helped us consider the options from the perspective of the other party."
"A very straightforward approach which never obscured the way ahead an left both parties able to decide on an acceptable resolution."
"I was not confident that it would settle, but …. you managed to assist the parties in bridging the gap."