CA Complaints Procedure
The aim of this Complaints Procedure is to provide a process that is fair, effective and efficient, through which valid complaints can be resolved concerning:
- breaches of the Association's Constitution, policies, regulations or other governance documents
- other acts which are injurious to the character or interests of the Association.
It is the responsibility of all those involved to ensure that complaints are handled fairly, promptly and correctly. Where appropriate and practicable, complaints should be resolved in the simplest possible manner.
It is a condition of membership of the Association, for individuals, clubs and federations, that the procedure set out below, which includes provision for arbitration, is their sole remedy against the Association, except for employment, contractual or tortious issues not concerning membership of the Association or events held under its jurisdiction.
The Procedure was approved by Council in May 2021.
Section A: Complaints
1. Maladministration complaints
1.1 A maladministration complaint arises if an Individual Member, Member Club or Member Federation believes that they have been adversely affected by maladministration by the Council, the Executive Board, a Committee or an Officer of the Association, or someone purporting to act on behalf of those bodies, including a CA tournament official.
1.2 Examples of maladministration include, but are not limited to, incorrect acts, undue delay in acting, failure to act and failure to follow correct procedure in reaching a decision. A properly made decision with which a complainant disagrees does not constitute maladministration.
1.3 Failure to follow correct procedure typically involves:
1.3.1 taking into account a factor that should not have been taken into account; or
1.3.2 failing to take into account a factor that should have been taken into account; or
1.3.3 making a decision that no reasonable body could reasonably have made.
2. Conduct complaints
2.1 A conduct complaint arises if a complainant believes that the conduct of an Individual Member, Member Club or Member Federation is:
2.1.1 in breach of the Association's Constitution, policies, regulations or other governance documents; or
2.1.2 injurious to the character or interests of the Association.
2.2 A conduct complaint may be brought by either:
2.2.1 an Individual Member, Member Club or Member Federation who believes that they have been adversely affected by the conduct alleged; or
2.2.2 the Executive Board.
Section B: Process
There are five possible stages but not all will necessarily apply depending on the nature of the complaint. Selection Appeals will not involve Stages 3 and 4. Appeals against expulsion will not involve Stages 1, 3 and 4.
3. Stage 1 - informal resolution
3.1 The complainant should first attempt to resolve the complaint informally by discussing it with the other party or parties involved or their representative. This includes any such attempt made under the CA Croquet Online Policy. If this does not lead to a satisfactory outcome or if the nature of the complaint makes such an approach infeasible, the complainant should proceed to Stage 2.
3.2 If the complaint is resolved but its resolution has any direct or indirect implications for the Association, the complainant should inform the Complaints Administrator accordingly, in writing or electronically.
4. Stage 2 - referral, assessment and adoption of a formal complaint
4.1 Subject to paragraph 10.2, the complainant should inform the Complaints Administrator in writing or electronically about the complaint. The complaint should be made within a period of three months, beginning with the day on which the maladministration or conduct complained of occurred or, in the case of conduct which occurred over a period of time, within three months of the latest example.
4.2 When submitting their complaint, the complainant should explain the nature of their grievance and give details of the specific instance(s) of:
4.2.1 the maladministration; or
4.2.2 the conduct that is alleged to breach the Association's Constitution, policies, regulations or other governance documents; or
4.2.3 the conduct that is alleged to be injurious to the character or interests of the Association.
4.3 The complainant should also describe in the same communication:
4.3.1 the outcome they are seeking; and
4.3.2 any attempt at informal resolution or explain why it was not attempted; and
4.3.3 if the complaint has not been submitted within the three-month time limit, the reason why.
4.4 If a formal complaint is received by another Officer, or a member of the Council, the Executive Board or a Committee, it should be forwarded to the Complaints Administrator.
4.5 The Complaints Administrator should acknowledge the complaint and draw the attention of the complainant to this procedure.
4.6 The Complaints Administrator shall assess the complaint and, if thought advisable or necessary, consult a Vice-President of the Association who is not connected with the complaint before deciding whether the complaint is admissible and, if it is a conduct complaint, suitable for adoption by the Executive Board.
4.7 If a conduct complaint is assessed to be suitable for adoption by the Executive Board, the Complaints Administrator shall refer the details of the complaint to the Chairman of the Executive Board who will then discuss the matter with the Executive Board. If the Executive Board decides to adopt the complaint, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the original complainant accordingly and continue to apply the Complaints Procedure in accordance with paragraph 4.10.
4.8 A complaint may be judged to be inadmissible if:
4.8.1 it is made anonymously; or
4.8.2 it relates to maladministration or conduct which occurred more than three months ago or, in the case of conduct which occurred over a period of time, if the latest example occurred more than three months ago; or
4.8.3 it relates to a matter that has already been the subject of a complaint which has been resolved or is in the process of being resolved; or
4.8.4 it has the nature of a purely personal dispute between two or more individuals which has no valid link with croquet; or
4.8.5 it appears to be the sole concern of a Member Club or Member Federation; or
4.8.6 it has not been subject to an attempt at informal resolution and the explanation given under paragraph 4.3.2 is absent or inadequate; or
4.8.7 it is vexatious, frivolous or otherwise unreasonable.
4.9 If a complaint is judged to be inadmissible, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the complainant and give brief reasons for the decision. If the complainant is dissatisfied with a judgement of inadmissibility, they are entitled to request that the Complaints Administrator should refer the matter to an Independent Third Party (see paragraph 10.1.1) whose decision shall be final.
4.10 If a complaint is judged to be admissible, the Complaints Administrator shall assess whether it is suitable for referral to:
4.10.1 a CA committee chairman; or
4.10.2 a CA committee chairman followed, if necessary, by referral to a mediator; or
4.10.3 a mediator; or
4.10.4 a Complaints Panel; or
4.10.5 an Appeals Panel (if paragraphs 7.1.2 (Selection Appeals) or 7.1.3 (expulsion appeals) apply).
5. Stage 3 - referral to a CA committee chairman or mediator
5.1 Referral to a CA committee chairman
If paragraphs 4.10.1 or 4.10.2 apply, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the complainant and any other party or parties and brief the relevant chairman. The relevant chairman shall then discuss the complaint with the complainant and report the outcome to the Complaints Administrator. If the complaint is not resolved, the Complaints Administrator shall apply paragraph 4.10.3 or 4.10.4.
5.2 Referral to a mediator
If paragraph 4.10.3 applies, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the complainant and the other party or parties and ask them if they are willing to attempt to resolve the complaint by mediation. If all parties are willing, the Complaints Administrator shall offer them a list of three mediators from the Panel of Mediators. If the parties agree to a mediator, the complaint will be referred to the agreed mediator. If any party is not willing to participate in mediation, or the complaint is not resolved by mediation, the Complaints Administrator shall apply paragraph 4.10.4.
6. Stage 4 - referral to a Complaints Panel
6.1 Subject to paragraph 8, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the complainant and the other party or parties and convene a Complaints Panel by selecting three names from the Complaints Panel pool, which is appointed by the Council and consists of suitably experienced members of the Association.
6.2 The Complaints Administrator shall ask one of those selected to chair the Complaints Panel and to conduct its proceedings in accordance with the procedure set out in paragraph 9 below.
6.3 A Complaints Panel is empowered:
6.3.1 in respect of a maladministration complaint, to make an appropriate recommendation to the Council.
6.3.2 in respect of a conduct complaint, to make a declaration, issue a warning, exclude players, teams or clubs from selection or participation in certain events, and suspend or terminate membership of the Association. If membership of the Association is terminated all subscriptions paid by the member shall be forfeited.
6.4 Any of the parties concerned may appeal against the decision of a Complaints Panel by informing the Complaints Administrator in writing or electronically of the matter that is the subject of the appeal within one month of the decision of the Complaints Panel. They must give details of why they consider the decision was wrong or procedurally unsatisfactory and what outcome they seek.
6.5 The Complaints Administrator shall assess the appeal and, if thought advisable or necessary, consult a Vice-President of the Association who is unconnected with the complaint before deciding whether the appeal is admissible.
6.6 An appeal may be judged to be inadmissible if:
6.6.1 it is lodged more than one month after the decision of the Complaints Panel; or
6.6.2 it is vexatious, frivolous or otherwise unreasonable.
6.7 If an appeal is judged to be inadmissible, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the appellant, and give brief reasons for the decision. If the appellant is dissatisfied with a judgement of inadmissibility, they are entitled to request that the Complaints Administrator should refer the matter to an Independent Third Party (see paragraph 10.1.2) whose decision shall be final.
7. Stage 5 - referral to an Appeals Panel
7.1 An Appeals Panel shall be convened in the following circumstances:
7.1.1 in accordance with paragraph 6.4; or
7.1.2 if the complaint is a Selection Appeal; or
7.1.3 if the complaint is against the expulsion of an Individual Member from a Member Club or of a Member Club from a Member Federation.
7.2 Subject to paragraph 6, the Complaints Administrator shall inform the appellant and the other party or parties and convene an Appeals Panel by selecting three names from the Appeals Panel pool, which is appointed by the Council and consists of current and past Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Association and Chairmen of the Council and other suitable Individual Members.
7.3 The Complaints Administrator shall ask one of those selected to chair the Appeals Panel and to conduct its proceedings in accordance with the procedure set out in paragraph 9 below.
7.4 An Appeals Panel is empowered:
7.4.1 to uphold or vary the findings and decisions of a Complaints Panel or, in the case of a maladministration complaint other than a Selection Appeal, to make an appropriate recommendation to the Council;
7.4.2 in the case of a Selection Appeal, to uphold or set aside the decision of a Selection Committee and, if set aside, to remit the decision to the Selection Committee for reconsideration;
7.4.3 to uphold or set aside the expulsion of an Individual Member from a Member Club or a Member Club from a Member Federation.
7.5 An Appeals Panel should only vary or set aside a decision if it finds that the decision-taker has:
7.5.1 taken into account factors which should not have been taken into account; or
7.5.2 failed to take into account factors which should have been taken into account; or
7.5.3 taken a decision which, in the opinion of the Appeals Panel, no reasonable decision-taker could have taken.
7.6 If a party is dissatisfied with the way in which a decision of an Appeals Panel has been reached, they may refer the matter to arbitration by Sport Resolutions (UK), the trading name of The Sports Dispute Resolution Panel Limited, a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales under company number 3351039. It is a condition of membership of the Association, for individuals, clubs and federations, that any such arbitration shall be binding on all parties.
8. Panel membership and avoidance of conflict of interest
8.1 Anyone who might reasonably be believed to be personally involved in a complaint or to have a close association with any of the parties shall be excluded from selection for a Complaints Panel or an Appeals Panel.
8.2 In particular:
8.2.1 if the complaint involves a member of a Member Club, or a Member Club itself, any current or former member of the Member Club; or
8.2.2 if the complaint involves a Member Federation, any person currently involved in the administration of the Member Federation; or
8.2.3 if the complaint involves the Council, Executive Board or a Committee, any current member of those bodies; or
8.2.4 if paragraph 6.4 applies, any member of the relevant Complaints Panel.
8.3 The Complaints Administrator shall consult with the parties when making the selection to ensure that there are no grounds in this paragraph that might invalidate the panel.
9. Conduct of a panel hearing
9.1 The panel should seek to consider and decide the complaint or appeal as soon as possible after it has been convened.
9.2 The panel chairman is empowered to direct either:
9.2.1 that there will be a physical or virtual meeting of the panel attended by the parties; or
9.2.2 with the consent of the parties, that the complaint will be assessed on the basis of written representations supported, if necessary, by direct communication with the parties at different times.
9.3 The panel chairman should ask the parties to submit a statement of their case in writing or electronically and is entitled to ask either party for further information or to seek information from elsewhere. Such information shall be shared with all the parties.
9.4 The parties should be given a full opportunity to make their case and explain their actions and decisions. They are entitled to be accompanied and to be represented.
9.5 The panel shall decide matters in dispute on the balance of probabilities.
9.6 The panel is entitled to reach a decision by a simple majority.
9.7 The panel chairman should communicate the decision of the panel in writing or electronically to the Complaints Administrator as soon as possible. The Complaints Administrator will then inform the parties of the decision in writing or electronically and, where relevant, of their right under paragraphs 6.4 or 7.6.
9.8 Where appropriate, the Complaints Administrator shall publish the outcome of a maladministration complaint.
10.1 Independent Third Party
An Independent Third Party is a Vice-President of the Association, or another person, who is unconnected with a complaint and is appointed by the President of the Association to rule on:
10.1.1 the admissibility of a complaint (see paragraph 4.9); or
10.1.2 the admissibility of an appeal against a decision of a Complaints Panel (see paragraph 6.7); or
10.1.3 whether access may be given to documentation relating to a past complaint (see paragraph 10.5.2).
10.2 Complaint concerning the Complaints Administrator
In the event that a complaint concerns the Complaints Administrator, the complainant should inform the Chairman of the Council instead of the Complaints Administrator. The Chairman of the Council shall appoint another person to discharge the function of the Complaints Administrator in the Complaints Procedure.
If the complainant has not attempted informal resolution of a conduct complaint under Stage 1, the identity of the complainant will be communicated to the respondent(s) if and when the complaint is deemed to be admissible under paragraph 4.6 unless the complaint is adopted by the Executive Board under paragraph 4.7.
10.4 Withdrawal of a complaint
A complainant is entitled to withdraw their complaint at any stage of this Complaints Procedure but should inform the Complaints Administrator of the reason in writing or electronically. Failure to do so may be taken into account when considering if any future complaint from the complainant is vexatious, frivolous or otherwise unreasonable (see paragraph 4.8.7).
10.5.1 All individuals involved in the administration of a complaint are encouraged to make written or electronic notes to record the steps taken to resolve the complaint. Copies of such notes should be given to the Complaints Administrator.
10.5.2 All documentation relating to a complaint, including material provided under paragraph 10.5.1, shall be retained by the Complaints Administrator on a strictly confidential basis. Access to such documentation shall require a ruling by an Independent Third Party (see paragraph 10.1.3).
10.6 Malicious complaints
Complaints made by Members that are considered to be malicious or deliberately intended to harm others may give rise to a conduct complaint against the malicious complainant.
10.7 Criminal or otherwise illegal actions
Actions that appear to be criminal or otherwise illegal will be reported to the appropriate law enforcement authority.