Complaints, Disciplinary & Dispute Resolution Procedure

Definitions

The following definitions apply

  • Disciplinary Panel (the Panel): three members of the party appointed to handle the case
  • The Party: York Green Party
  • The Executive: The elected officers of York Green Party
  • Complainant: the person or persons making the complaint
  • Respondent: the person or persons about whom the complaint is being made

Introduction

  1. Disciplinary measures should be seen as a last resort and not a substitute for good working practices, nor for the use of consensual dispute resolution. Please read the guidance on the national website in addition to this procedure at https://my.greenparty.org.uk/content/complaints-process
  2. At the outset, the complainant and respondent shall be asked whether they consider that any adjustments need to be made to the complaints process for reasons of disability, and if so, what those adjustments should be. 

Dispute resolution

  1. Informal attempts to consensually resolve a dispute are encouraged as a first step. A request for formal dispute resolution may be made by a member to the Executive of the Party, normally to the chair/co-ordinator.
  2. If the Partydoes not have someone capable of providing formal dispute resolution, the Regional Green Party may be asked to do so. All dispute resolution shall be on a consensual basis and shall remain confidential unless the participants agree to disclosure. If those involved are in any way dissatisfied with the process, they may wish to consider approaching the national Disputes Resolution Committee.

Non-disciplinary grievances

  1. Any member who wishes to raise a grievance that does not relate to a disciplinary matter may make a request in writing to the Chair/Co-ordinator of York Green Party that it be considered. A decision would normally be expected within one calendar month. If the member disagrees with the decision, they may raise the grievance with the Regional Green Party.

Disciplinary complaints

  1. Any person may request, by returning a completed complaint form to the Chair of York Green Party, that the disciplinary procedure should be invoked. The Chair of the disciplinary panel shall decide, within 7 days, whether or not the behaviour of a member, or group of members merits the invoking of this disciplinary procedure.
  2. If the person is not happy with this decision of the chair of the panel, they have the option of referring the complaint to the Regional Party.

Please note that references below to complainant or respondent in the singular should also be taken to refer to the plural, where applicable.

  1. The first consideration is whether the complaint includes a disciplinary matter. The 3 grounds on which a disciplinary complaint may be properly brought are, as set out in the national Standing Orders for Party Discipline, that it is alleged either:

  • “that the Respondent has contravened the Constitution of the Green Party of England and Wales as interpreted by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) or the constitution of York Green Party;
  • that the Respondent has committed a breach of one or more of the number of Standards in the Party’s Code of Conduct;
  • that the Respondent has brought the Party into disrepute.”

  1. A complaint that does not meet one of these three criteria is not a disciplinable matter.
  2. The chair of the panel, or the chair of the Party may ask the Green Party Regional Committee (GPRC) for immediate suspension if it is thought that the behaviour of a party to the dispute is likely to bring the Party into disrepute.
  3. Whether or not the formal disciplinary procedure is invoked, the Executive will be empowered at this stage to agree a plan of action with the respondent to remedy the matter. This could include mediation between the complainant and the respondent.
  4. Every reasonable effort should be made by all concerned to respect confidentiality.
  5. If the Chair of the panel considers there may be a case to answer, then the Chair the panel shall, within 14 days of receipt of the complaint, convene a panel of  3 people to investigate the matter fully and determine the appropriate course of action, one of whom shall be the Chair of the panel. The panel may be chosen from either the Executive or the full membership of York Green Party and who will be considered to be impartial and competent to consider the case. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right of objection to one member of the panel. GPRC representatives may not be involved in proceedings (unless as complainant or respondent) within York as this may conflict with any role they may have in further procedures or appeal procedures.
  6. The role of the panel is:

  • to gather all relevant information;
  • to determine the facts about a matter;
  • to establish the most likely picture of what happened (or did not happen) from an analysis of the facts;
  • to identify any problems and the sources of those problems, and to make practical recommendations.

  1. The panel shall offer the respondent the opportunity to present evidence in person or writing at the respondent’s preference.
  2. The complaint and any evidence gathered will be considered confidential and will only be shared with the panel, the complainant and the respondent. The panel will produce a report and recommendations to be shared with the Executive, within 21 days of the panel being convened.

Sanctions & disciplinary measures

  1. This panel has the power to make recommendations in respect of the disciplinary matter. The Committee shall consider these recommendations and shall have the power to impose one or more of the following sanctions:

  • written warning;
  • censure;
  • moderation or exclusion from York Green Party’s email, social media or online activities for a defined period;
  • excluding the respondent from participation in any specified meeting/meetings or activity of York Green Party for a fixed period;
  • imposition of acceptable conduct conditions on the respondent’s participation in York Green Party for a fixed period, for example an instruction not to approach a specified complainant in meetings (if appropriate, a set of conditions may be set out in a formal agreement); 
  • removing the respondent from any elected position in York Green Party
  • exclusion from standing for positions of responsibility within York Green Party (committee posts, local election candidate etc) for a defined period;
  • exclusion from standing for any position within the Green Party elected by York Green Party for a defined period;

Suspended sanctions

  • The Disciplinary Panel may, at its discretion, impose a sanction which is suspended from immediate effect, to expire after a fixed period.   In the event of any further complaint against the Respondent being received within that period and subsequently upheld, the Disciplinary Panel may impose the suspended sanction in addition to any sanction awarded for the further complaint.

Recommendations for regional or national disciplinary action

  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee of disqualification of the Respondent from election or co-option to any office in their Regional Party or GPEW, for a fixed period;
  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee of deselection of the respondent from any candidacy for public office; 
  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee of disqualification of the respondent from seeking within GPEW nomination for election to any public office, for a fixed period;
  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee of disqualification of the respondent from seeking within GPEW nomination for election to any office within GPEW, for a fixed period; 
  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee of withdrawal of Green Party designation from a respondent who holds public office (e.g. a councillor), for a fixed period. 
  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee for a sanction of suspension of GPEW membership for a fixed period;
  • recommendation to the national Disciplinary Committee for a sanction of termination of GPEW membership.

Appeals

  1. The complainant and the respondent have the right of appeal, to the Regional Party. They must write to the Regional Co-ordinator within 21 days of receiving written notification of the decision of the Disciplinary Panel. The letter of appeal should state the grounds for appeal, for example that the finding or actions are unfair, new evidence is available or procedure was incorrectly followed. Evidence that was known to either the complainant or respondent at the time of the original process but not submitted by them at the time cannot be introduced via this appeal stage without the consent of the Chair of the panel. Appeals should be dealt with as soon as practicable, normally within 35 days.
  2. Members have rights, under the constitutions of the Green Party of England & Wales (GPEW) and their Regional Green Party, separately from their rights under this procedure. Those constitutions may grant members a separate right of appeal against decisions taken by a local party. Members involved in dispute, grievance or complaint cases should be fully informed of these rights by York Green Party.
  3. Guidance from GPEW and the Regional Green Party that may be issued on procedures for handling disputes, complaints, grievances and appeals must also be taken into account by York Green Party. Such guidance may include but may not be limited to: requirements for reporting new cases & decisions; confidentiality; which level of the Party is appropriate to decide a case, and so on.
  4. All members of the Green Party of England & Wales are also bound by a number of national organisational documents that govern behaviour. These must be taken into account by York Green Party both in its day to day operation and when disputes, grievances and complaints arise. (For example: the Members Code of Conduct; the Anti-Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination policy; the Safe Spaces policy, the Safeguarding Policy and the Child Protection policy.)

Elected officers

  1. Where the respondent is an elected representative of the Party (such as a councillor or MP) the chair of the Party shall co-ordinate the order in which disciplinary actions should take place if a complaint has also been made to the elected body (such as York City Council or Parliament).

August 2020

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