Rules for complaints

RULES FOR COMPLAINTS AND DISCIPLINARY ACTION CERTIFICATE HOLDERS GLOBAL NETWORK GROUP
VERSION: JANUARY 2016
1. DEFINITIONS
1.1. The terms in these rules shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them as stated in the Global Network Group (GNG) list of terms and definitions.
2. NAME
2.1. These regulations bear the following name: Rules for complaints and disciplinary actions certificate holders Global Network Group.
3. OBJECTIVES
3.1. The objectives of these rules and regulations are: To promote and maintain the quality of action and behaviour of the certificate holders, in the broadest sense, as well as describe a procedure which deals with the settlement of complaints against certificate holders submitted by certificate holders, non-certificate holders or licensed bodies.
4. PROCEDURE
IN GENERAL
4.1. The procedure consists of three stages, namely:
a. Phase 1: Handling the complaint by the certificate holder
b. Phase 2: Handling the complaint by the complaints mediator
c. Phase 3: Handling the complaint by the complaints committee
d. Phase 4: Handling the appeal lodged by the Quality Standards Committee
4.2. These regulations are applicable to all (associate) certificate holders.
4.3. Complainants can be:
a. Natural persons
b. Legal persons | entities
c. (Non) certificate holders
d. The economic sector and professional organizations when their status is shown from the valid statutes of the company concerned
e. Global Network Group it self
FILING A COMPLAINT
4.4. The complaint needs to be lodged via email by using the official GNG complaint form and per email info@global-network-group.eu.
4.5. The complaint cannot be lodged anonymously.
4.6. GNG records the date of receipt of the complaint and acknowledges its receipt to the complainant via email.
PHASE 1: HANDLING BY THE CERTIFICATEHOLDER
4.7. Complainant as well as respondent can request to skip phase 1. For this a well -motivated request should be filed per email. GNG decides on the request. There is no right of appeal with regard to this decision.
4.8. The certificate holder is bound to do his/her utmost in order to find an amicable way of solving the case. GNG decides on the timetable.
4.9. The outcome is reported by email to GNG.
4.10. Phase 1 has no costs.
PHASE 2: APPOINTMENT AND DUTIES OF THE COMPLAINTS MEDIATOR
4.11. Complainant as well as respondent can request to skip phase 2. For this a well-motivated request should be filed per email. GNG decides on the request. There is no right of appeal with regard to this decision.
4.12. GNG appoints a complaints mediator within two calendar months of receipt of the complaint fee and forwards a copy of the file to the complaints mediator.
4.13. GNG promptly acknowledges the appointment of the complaints mediator in writing to both complainant and respondent.
4.14. The complaints mediator, having due regard to the principle of hearing both sides of the argument, has the duty to investigate whether the complaint can be settled to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The procedure of the complaints mediator is without let. The complaints mediator will document in writing his chosen procedure and the results obtained. The complaints mediator reports to GNG in writing, intermediate upon request, but in any case directly after the completion of his/her duties.
4.15. The complaints mediator will be able to perform his duties within three calendar months after the appointment. This period can be extended by three calendar months twice.
4.16. If the complaints mediator succeeds in resolving the complaint, the settlement will be recorded in writing and confirmed to GNG and the parties involved. No notice of objection can be lodged against a settlement.
4.17. If the complaints mediator does not succeed in resolving the complaint, the assignment will be handed back to GNG. The complaints mediator will confirm the termination of the assignment in writing to GNG and the parties.
4.18. Phase 2 has costs.
PHASE 3: APPOINTMENT AND DUTIES OF THE COMPLAINTS COMMITTEE
4.19. GNG appoints a complaints committee within two calendar months of the mediator’s notification of non-success.
4.20. The complaints committee will comprise at least three members. GNG will make sure the complaints committee is composed in a well-balanced, impartial and professional way.
4.21. The complaints committee appoints a chairman and a secretary from among its members.
4.22. GNG selects the chairman. The chairman of the complaints committee will preferably be a lawyer.
4.23. Complainant and respondent have to nominate themselves a member of the complaint committee. Both have the right to object against each other's candidate(s). After three objections made by one-and-same party the chairman of the complaint committee decides on the nomination.
4.24. The complaints mediator cannot serve in the complaints committee unless otherwise agreed upon by the complainant(s) and respondent(s).
4.25. The complaints committee hears the complaint having due regard to the principle of hearing both sides of the argument. Both the complainant and the respondent are given the opportunity to explain their respective positions as well as take note of the each other’s positions. Both parties will be invited to attend a hearing by the complaints committee on a date set by this committee in order to provide the committee with further information and give an oral explanation to the committee.
4.26. The complaints committee will take a decision by a simple majority of votes. The complaint can only be dealt with by the entire complaints committee. The complaints committee can decide, contrary to what is stipulated in 4.25 of these rules and regulations, that when there are grounds for doing so it can suffice to give a written explanation by the parties and to renounce a hearing.
4.27. The complaints committee will render a written decision within six months after its appointment. This period can be extended twice for three months each. An extension will be reported in writing to GNG and both parties.
4.28. The complaints committee will send its ruling to GNG and both parties.
4.29. An appeal can be brought against the ruling of the complaints committee by the Quality Standards Committee. An appeal needs to be instigated within six calendar weeks after the date of the committee’s ruling. An appeal can only be instigated in writing by email.
4.30. Phase 3 has costs.
PHASE 4: APPOINTMENT AND DUTIES OF THE QUALITY STANDARDS COMMITTEE
4.31. The Quality Standards Committee of the certificate scheme of the scope of the certificate holders is authorized.
4.32. The Quality Standards Committee will not be appointed separately.
4.33. The Quality Standards Committee will hear the objection within the normal meeting schedule. No further terms are needed.
4.34. The Quality Standards Committee will hear the objection having due regard to the principle of hearing both sides of the argument. Both the complainant and the respondent are given the opportunity to explain their respective positions as well as take note of the each other’s positions by the complaints committee. Both parties will be invited to attend a hearing by the Quality Standards Committee on a date set by this committee in order to provide the committee with further information and give an oral explanation.
4.35. The Quality Standards Committee will take a decision by a simple majority of votes. The complaints committee can decide, contrary to what is stipulated in 4.34 of these regulations, that when there are grounds for doing so it can suffice to give a written explanation by the parties and to renounce a hearing.
4.36. During the handling of the objection, the execution of the ruling of the complaints committee will be sustained unaffected by the right of GNG to take and enforce interim sanctions which can be equal to the main and/or additional sanctions as formulated by the complaints committee. The Quality Standards Committee will deliver a decision in writing and will inform its ruling to both parties as well as to GNG. 4.37. The ruling of the Quality Standards Committee cannot be opposed.
4.38. Phase 3 has costs.
TESTING
4.39. The Action of the respondent will exclusively be tested against the applicable code of conduct and the requirements.
SUSPENSION OF THE HEARING AND CONVERGENCE
4.40. The complaints mediator and/or the complaints committee and/or the Quality Standards Committee has/have the right to suspend the arbitration in order to await the outcome or verdict of another authority and to take this into consideration with their arbitration.
4.41. The complaints mediator and/or the complaints committee and/or the Quality Standards Committee has/have the right to suspend arbitration if according to them an undesired convergence of procedures arises which will have or can have an adverse influence on the arbitration of the complaint and/or the progress of other procedures or can cause damage to parties.
4.42. A request for suspension can be lodged by both the complainant as well as the respondent. A decision to suspend arbitration will be announced in writing to both complainant and respondent. It is not possible to appeal against a decision to suspension.
4.43. When a certificate holder is also certified by another certifying organization, GNG, the complaints mediator and/or the complaints committee and/or the Quality Standards Committee can decide to deal with the complaint at the same time or to hand it over to the other certifying organization.
COSTS
4.44. The complainant has to pay a deposit, the complaints fee, in advance. The amount of the complaints fee can be found on the annual price list published by GNG.
4.45. The complaints fee has to be paid to GNG by the complainant before the complaint will be heard. A complaint will only become a formally lodged complaint when the complaints fee due has been received by GNG. When the complaint fee has not been paid yet, GNG is not obliged to hear the complaint.
4.46. The costs of the complaints mediator, the complaints committee, the Quality Standards Committee and/or other experts will be charged to both parties. The amount of the fees and the costs of the complaints mediator, complaints committee and the Quality Standards Committee can be found on an annual price list, published by GNG.
4.47. Should it be necessary to use external expertise or experts in order to hear the complaint, both parties need to give their prior consent and the costs resulting from this will be charged to both parties at cost price.
4.48. The costs of hearing the complaint need to be paid by the party/parties who will be declared at fault unless otherwise decided during the handling of the complaint. The complaints fee paid in advance by the complainant will be refunded.
4.49. In exceptional cases, to be determined by GNG, costs can be divided by both parties or be mitigated.
4.50. If the complainant withdraws his complaint all costs will be charged to the complainant.
4.51. GNG is authorized to ask for a deposit or guarantee from the complainant, the respondent or from both parties before hearing the complaint, to cover the costs which will be made.
4.52. If a complaint will be lodged by or on behalf of a certificate holder and consequently becomes a complaint between certificate holders, the costs will be divided on a pro rata basis unless otherwise decided between both parties. The certificate holder in question will be automatically suspended in case of complete and/or partial non-performance.
SPECIAL STIPULATIONS
4.53. The complaints mediator, the entire complaints committee, the entire Quality Standards Committee as well as the individual members of the complaints committee and/or the Quality Standards Committee can be challenged by both parties. For this end, a request for challenge should be lodged by GNG.
4.54. GNG takes a decision within three calendar months after the request for challenge has been lodged.
4.55. During the handling of the request for challenge, other time limits with regards to treatment, as referred to in these rules and regulations will be suspended and resumed directly after this decision has been taken.
4.56. No grounds for challenge are:
a. Being a GNG certificate holder
b. Being a member of or associated with a branch or professional organization when the status is shown from the valid statutes of the organization concerned.
4.57. The complaints mediator, the complaints committee and the Quality Standards Committee have an obligation of secrecy with regard to all information, facts and circumstances which they are familiar with from their duties based on these rules and regulations.
4.58. At the request of both parties it is possible to deviate from the stipulated periods in the rules and regulations. To do this a request should be lodged by GNG.
4.59. GNG decides about meant request and will inform both parties by return post of the taken decision.
4.60. The complainant can withdraw the complaint at all times, unaffected by the provisions of article 4.50 of these rules and regulations.
4.61. Every natural person, this expressly includes certificate holders, can be appointed by GNG as complaints mediator or as member of the complaints committee.
FEES
4.62. The complaints mediator, the complaints committee and the Quality Standards Committee are entitled to a remuneration of their honorarium and expenses.
4.63. If appropriate GNG will enter into agreements with the complaints mediator, the complaints committee and the Quality Standards Committee. The honorarium and the costs incurred will be passed on the basis of the provisions laid down in these rules and regulations.
5. INADMISSIBLE
5.1. If the complaint does not concern a certificate holder or does not relate to the personal conduct and behaviour of the certificate holder, GNG will declare the complaint inadmissible.
5.2. The complaint committee and the Quality Standards Committee can declare the complaint inadmissible based on the declared under 5.1 of these rules and regulations.
5.3. A complaint against a branch or professional organization is inadmissible. The present scheme does not provide for corporate rules for complaints and disciplinary action.
5.4. When there is no case GNG can make recommendations to the respondent and/or complainant. This can include referring to an authorized agency.
6. RULING
6.1. The complaints committee will render a decision. The rules and regulations distinguish four types of decision, namely:
a. The complaint is inadmissible.
b. The complaint is unfounded.
c. The complaint is manifestly unfounded
d. The complaint is well-founded.
6.2. The complaints committee is not obliged to reveal the internal voting proportions.
6.3. The complaints committee is obliged to motivate its ruling in writing.
6.4. If the complainant does not cooperate in carrying out these regulations or otherwise hinders the complaints committee from carrying out its duties, the committee is entitled to break off the hearing as well as declare the complaint manifestly unfounded.
6.5. If the accused does not cooperate in carrying out these regulations or otherwise hinders the complaints committee from carrying out its duties, the committee is entitled to rule mid-term, declare the complaint well-founded and determine measures.
6.6. If the complaints committee declares the complaint well-founded the committee is obliged to determine a sanction.
7. SANCTIONS
7.1. If the complaints committee declares the complaint well-founded the committee will proceed to determine a sanction.
7.2. The rules and regulations distinguish six main sanctions, namely:
a. No measure because of special circumstances
b. Caution
c. Written reprimand
d. Written reprimand with a notification to the branch and/or professional organization with which the certificate holder is affiliated.
e. Suspension of the certification for a fixed term with a maximum of one calendar year per suspension.
f. Confiscation of the certification
7.3. If the complaints committee declares the complaint well-founded, the committee can proceed to determine not only the main measure but also an additional sanction or additional sanctions. An additional sanction can have the purpose to guide the conduct and behaviour of a certificate holder or serve a higher purpose of the professional organization.
7.4. The rules and regulations distinguish three additional sanctions, namely:
a. Determining further conditions to the continuation of the current certification.
b. Determining further conditions to (re)certification.
c. Making the ruling public.
8. ARCHIVE AND INFORMATION
8.1. GNG is in charge of registering all documents (the archive) which are linked to these regulations and its execution. This also includes all files of complaints.
8.2. The archive mentioned in article 8.1 is not accessible for third parties and non-certificate holders.
8.3. GNG will make a statement in its annual report of the number of complaints lodged , the decisions made and the sanctions that were imposed. The report is anonymous except for making it public as meant in article 7.4.
9. FINAL CLAUSES
9.1. Liability. GNG does not accept any liability whatsoever for actions and/or behaviour resulting from this document. GNG emphatically denies liability of any kind.
9.2. Authority. GNG is authorized to set and alter this code.
9.3. Confidentiality. GNG, its management, its committees as well as individual committee members are obliged to keep their knowledge of certificate holders and/or third parties, information regarding companies, agencies, and any organizations and/or persons about which they have information as a result of their role within GNG strictly confidential. Any breach of confidentiality is grounds for the removal of the person from his/her position and if they are certificate holder's grounds for examination of compatibility with the code of conduct and the standing rules regulating complaints and disciplinary action.
9.4. Disputes. Should a dispute occur because this code does not or does not adequately cover a situation, GNG is authorized without prejudice to the provisions of the articles of association to leave no stone unturned to alter the statutes of GNG. If the GNG does not settle the dispute, the dispute will be subject to mediation. If mediation is not successful, the dispute will be brought before a Dutch court.
9.5. Multilingual. In cases where more than one language is in use, English will be the language of choice.
9.6. Law. This code shall be governed by Dutch law only.