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Grievance Procedure - Guidelines

1. When a member wishes to lodge a grievance or raise a dispute within a local group or within the LDWA nationally, the following procedure should be followed, based on the LDWA Constitution, Articles 3.3-3.8 and the LDWA Bylaws, Sections 9-22.
2. A grievance may be heard either within the local group structure or at national level. If the member does not belong to a local group, if there is no relevant group, if the grievance is considered outside the scope of a local group, or the matter is felt inappropriate for consideration at local group level, a grievance may be lodged with the National Executive Committee.What follows is written in terms of a grievance at national level. The alternative phrases in square brackets [ ] are to be read for the local group case.
3. An Applicant should write to the General Secretary of the Association [the Chair/Secretary of the Local Group concerned] requesting that the grievance be heard. The Applicant must give full details of the grievance, including their full name and address, the date of the request, clear identification of other parties, the nature of the grievance, the name and address of any witnesses, and any documentary evidence. If the application is defective, the Applicant will be notified in writing and have 7 days in which to remedy the defect. If the grievance is at local group level, the Local Group should inform the General Secretary of the Association that an application has been lodged so that the procedure can be monitored.
4. The General Secretary of the Association shall inform the Executive Committee [The Chair of the Local Group shall inform the Local Group Management Committee (GMC)] and may seek information from any other parties to the grievance.
5. If the General Secretary [GMC] decides that the complaint does not merit further investigation, the matter may be dismissed, and such a decision shall be final. The grievance should be kept on file in case of any further allegations of a similar nature. All parties to the grievance should be informed of such a decision.
6. If the General Secretary [GMC] decides that a grievance merits further consideration, and that it cannot be resolved by mutual agreement of the parties involved, the Executive Committee [GMC] shall convene a Ruling Panel. The Ruling Panel shall consist of either 2 or 3 independent members of the Association. No member of the Executive Committee [the GMC or of the Executive Committee] may sit on the Ruling Panel. Those on the Panel should possess the necessary experience and expertise on the issues involved, and have some knowledge of, or have access to people with some knowledge of, natural justice.
7. The Ruling Panel shall notify the Applicant and any person(s) against whom a complaint is made (the 'Respondent(s)'), at the address on the Association mailing list. The Respondent(s) has 21 days in which to submit a written response to the Chair of the Ruling Panel, to include their full name and address and a statement in reply to the application. If the response is defective, the Respondent(s) will be notified in writing and have 7 days in which to remedy the defect.
8. The Ruling Panel shall determine the form, procedure and date of any hearing, and shall notify the parties involved in the grievance. They may consult with interested parties to determine the best way to proceed. Any hearing shall take place in private and may be adjourned if necessary. There need not be a hearing if the Ruling Panel believes the matter can be resolved in a fair manner without a hearing. The Ruling Panel have complete discretion to recover the costs incurred in setting up the hearing. For example, they might require a deposit from the Applicant which would be returned if the application was successful. (This is to discourage vexatious and frivolous applications.)
9. The Ruling Panel will hear the evidence presented. The Applicant and any Respondents have the right to make representations to the Ruling Panel. The Ruling Panel may seek information and advice as they feel appropriate.
10. The Ruling Panel will reach a Decision based on the evidence presented. The Panel will exercise any discretion in accordance with the principles of natural justice, proportionality and rationality. The Decision and any recommendations, with a summary of the reasoning behind the Decision, shall be conveyed in writing to the Applicant, the Respondent(s) and the Executive Committee [the GMC and the Executive Committee].
11. The Executive Committee [GMC] shall consider the Decision and recommendations and take appropriate action. The General Secretary [Chair of the Local Group] shall inform all parties involved in the grievance of such actions.
12. The Applicant and Respondent(s) may appeal any Decision of the Ruling Panel within 45 days of being notified of the Decision. The appeal must be in writing to the General Secretary of the Association [Chair/Secretary of the Local Group]. The appeal must include a statement of the grounds for appeal.
13. On receipt of a valid appeal the Executive Committee [GMC] will convene an Appeals Panel. The Appeals Panel shall consist of either 2 or 3 independent members of the Association. No member of the Executive Committee [the Local Group GMC or of the Executive Committee] or of the Ruling Panel that made the original Decision may sit on the Appeals Panel.
14. The Appeals Panel shall receive representations based on the reasons for appeal. They shall proceed in the manner set out for the Ruling Panel in Notes 7-10 above. The decision of the Appeals Panel shall be final.
15. All notifications relating to the proceedings shall be in writing, and copies of letters should be kept. A copy of the Decision should be sent to the General Secretary of the Association to enable the Association to maintain a precedent bank of decisions.
16. Those involved in a grievance procedure are reminded of the obligations of sub judice and confidentiality. Disclosure of any complaint or allegation shall be limited to the extent necessary to carry out a thorough, fair and impartial investigation and to ensure that any procedure complies with the principles of natural justice.
LDWA Committee
11 September 1999