Complaints Procedure and Policy
In providing a mechanism for resolving complaints, WAPA aims to ensure that:
- Members and consumers have access to a fair, equitable and inexpensive process for dealing with complaints
- Every effort is made to resolve complaints and appeals in a timely and effective manner
- All parties must be given the opportunity to present their case, be fully informed about allegations and decisions made and have the right to representation
- Members maintain the standards of behaviour and service set out in the WAPA Code of Conduct
- There is an avenue for members to appeal against decisions
- The complaints and appeals mechanism as a whole is made known to members at the time of enrolment
The WAPA secretariat is identified as the reference person for all complaints.
Where a complaint cannot be resolved internally, WAPA will advise members and consumers of the appropriate body from which they can seek further assistance.
WAPA expects its members to make every fair and reasonable effort to resolve the dispute prior to the lodging of a formal complaint.
Principles of the complaints and appeals procedure
Each complaint or appeal and outcome is documented.
Each complaint is heard by a single independent adjudicator. Appeals are heard by a panel of two independent adjudicators. Adjudicators are required to warrant their independence in the matter.
A reasonable deposit will be requested in the event of an appeal.
Each complainant/appellant has an opportunity to present their case, and is given a written statement of the outcomes, including reasons for the decision.
A complaint is owned by a complainant who has the right to withdraw the complaint at any stage prior to the assignment thereof to an independent adjudicator and to choose to alter the process of the resolution (i.e. informal or formal).
Procedure for Official Complaint or Appeal
1. The complainant/appellant must document:
- a detailed description of the complaint and the manner in which the WAPA member has breached the Code;
- identifying details of the WAPA member complained against;
- where possible, a list of the sections of the WAPA Code of Conduct which the complainant alleges have been breached;
- at least a summary of evidence in support of the complaint or the grounds on which the appeal is based;
- sign and send it to the WAPA Secretariat together with a statement that the complaint is made in good faith;
- where appropriate, the complainant/appellant may suggest a satisfactory resolution process.
2. WAPA will acknowledge receiving the formal complaint/appeal via return mail/email within 3 working days of receipt.
3. WAPA will assess the complaint and will seek advice from the regulatory advisor and operations manager as appropriate, on possible solutions.
Receipt of complaints
1. WAPA will only accept written complaints – by post or facsimile or email
2. All complaints received will be promptly assessed in order to determine the most appropriate manner to resolve them.
3. WAPA will correspond with all complainants informing them of the status of their complaint.
4. If the information provided in the letter of complaint is insufficient (in particular, if it fails to adequately identify the member against whom the complaint is directed or the exact nature of complaint) then more information will be sought from the complainant.
5. In deciding how to handle the complaint further, WAPA will consider:
- the nature of the complaint(s) received;
- all relevant communications and evidence submitted;
- the member, response (if any);
- all relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct;
- any other relevant supporting materials or other representations.
6. WAPA will deal with complaints in one of the following ways:
- Attempt informal resolution; and/or
- Refer the matter to an independent adjudicator for resolution.
7. WAPA is not limited, in its considerations, to issues raised by the complainant.
8. An independent adjudicator may request the Secretariat to obtain further information from one or both of the parties to the complaint where such information is reasonably required to allow the matter to be adjudicated.
9. An independent adjudicator may make the following determinations
- To dismiss the complaint;
- To uphold the complaint or aspects thereof with reference to specific breaches of clause of the Code of Conduct.
10. In deciding any sanction to be imposed, an independent adjudicator must take the following will be taken into account:
- prior record of the member;
- damages caused as a consequence of the breach; and
- any other mitigating or aggravating factor which an adjudicator deems relevant
11. An independent adjudicator shall deliver his or her findings in a written report which the Secretariat shall make available to both parties to the complaint.
12. Should either party wish to appeal the ruling of the independent adjudicator they shall notify the Secretariat of their intention to appeal and the full basis for such appeal within ten (10) working days of the date on which the member received the relevant ruling. The Secretariat shall thereafter refer the matter to a panel of two adjudicators who shall consider the basis for the appeal and make a ruling thereon.