We understand that it may be distressing to be the subject of a complaint. This guidance will help you understand the process. BACP staff must remain neutral in processing a complaint and cannot give any advice.
If a complaint is made against you
When we receive a complaint, a case manager reviews it to ensure that it meets the criteria of the Professional Conduct Procedure. This will include checking to see if there is a detailed account of the complaint, including details of any resolution, and whether the practitioner was a member when the matters complained about took place. This should take no longer than 12 weeks, but we try to review all complaints as quickly possible.
If a complaint against you can be processed under the Professional Conduct Procedure, we will send you a copy of the complaint. If the complaint relates to an organisational member, we will send it to the designated contact person. You are not required to formally respond at this stage but you should notify your insurance company.
We will then convene a pre-hearing assessment panel to consider the complaint. .
Pre-hearing assessment panel
This panel will review the complaint and decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to suggest that there may have been a breach of the Ethical Framework. They may request further information to help them to decide this .
If the complaint is accepted, a report will be prepared detailing the allegations which will be considered at a professional conduct hearing.
If the complaint is rejected, a report will be prepared detailing the panel's reason for this decision. The complainant may submit an appeal against this decision if:
- the decision was made against the weight of evidence
- they have new evidence that was not available when the panel sat
Any appeal must be submitted within 14 days of the panel’s decision. The assessor’s decision will be final.
Once a complaint is being considered under the Professional Conduct Procedure, resigning or lapsing your membership will not prevent BACP from continuing to process the complaint.
If a complaint is accepted
If a complaint is accepted for a professional conduct hearing, you will have 28 days to formally respond to the allegations. Both the complainant and the member are expected to attend the hearing. The onus is on the complainant to prove the allegations contained within the report of the pre-hearing assessment panel.
If either party to the complaint does not attend the hearing, a decision will be made by the Registrar whether to proceed with the hearing in their absence, terminate the proceedings or refer the matter for consideration under Article 12.6.
If the professional conduct panel finds against you, you will have the right of appeal. You must submit your appeal in writing within 28 days of notification of the panel's decision.
If your appeal is accepted, the complaint will be heard by an independent appeal panel. You must attend the hearing to present your side of the case and answer the panel’s questions
The decision of the appeal panel will be final.
Sanctions against you
The purpose of any sanctions imposed is to enable you to address and change any shortcomings identified within your practice and help you to improve. However where the conduct is serious, the panel may decide that withdrawal of membership is the best sanction.
You may be required to submit reports for monitoring and approval by a separate sanctions panel. All sanctions are considered by an independent sanction panel whose role is to decide whether or not the requirements of the sanction have been met. Once the sanctions have been fulfilled, the sanctions against you will be lifted.
If you do not comply with any sanctions imposed on you, the sanction panel has the ability to withdraw your membership.
Details of the findings of professional conduct hearings and sanction notices are published in the Notices section of this website and in Therapy Today.