We understand that bringing a complaint can be a distressing and stressful process. We will make the process as straightforward as possible by providing you with information and guidance on our procedures throughout your complaint. BACP has to remain neutral and act fairly towards all parties in a complaint.

When we receive a complaint, it will be assigned to a case manager. They will carry out out an internal review to see if it meets the criteria for the professional conduct procedure. This will include checking that the complaint includes a detailed account, with dates of when incidents occurred, that it is signed and dated, and has details of any attempts at resolution. This should take no longer than 12 weeks, but we try to review all complaints as quickly possible.

For further information see:

Timescales for processing complaints (pdf 0.2MB)

If a complaint cannot be processed, or further information or clarification is required, the case manager will write to the complainant giving their reasons or stating what information is required, to assist the complainant in re-formatting or re-submitting their complaint.

If a complaint can be processed under the Professional Conduct Procedure, we will send a copy of the complaint to the member and arrange a pre-hearing assessment panel.

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. A 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 28 days of the panel’s decision. The grounds of the appeal, together with the original submissions and any acceptable new evidence, will be reconsidered by an independent appeal assessor. It is not their role to consider a new complaint. The assessor’s decision will be final.

For details of how new evidence can be introduced, see

Protocol on new evidence (pdf 0.2MB)

Professional conduct hearing

The case will be heard by an independent panel. Dependent on the availability of all parties, we aim for all hearings to take place within six to nine months of the decision of the pre-hearing assessment panel.

Both the complainant and the member concerned are expected to attend the hearing and may have a representative to support them. The panel will question both parties and consider all the written and verbal evidence available on the day. It is for the complainant to prove that the matters complained of occurred.

After considering all the evidence the panel will decide whether the complaint is proven and, if so, what sanction, if any, should be imposed on the member. A report will be prepared detailing the panel's findings.

For further information see:

Format of a professional conduct hearing (pdf 0.2MB)

What happens at a professional conduct hearing (pdf 0.2MB)

New evidence for professional conduct hearing (pdf 0.2MB)

We will notify both parties of the panel’s decision within 28 days of the hearing.

If the complaint is upheld, the member complained against will have the right of appeal. They must submit their appeal within 28 days. It will be considered by an independent appeal assessor who will decide whether it should go to an appeal hearing.

If the appeal is accepted, it will be heard by a new panel. Both the complainant and the member concerned are expected to attend the appeal hearing.

The appeal panel will give their decision within 28 days of the hearing. This decision will be final.

For further information see:

What happens at a professional conduct appeal hearing (pdf 0.2MB)