There will be circumstances where it is possible for a Member and a Complainer to resolve a disagreement without the need for ICAS to carry out a formal investigation of a complaint. ICAS refers to complaints resolved in this manner as having been 'conciliated', with the formal procedure for reaching a resolution referred to as the 'Conciliation Protocols'.
Conciliation will not be appropriate in all circumstances; for example, where the allegations made by the Complainer involve the level of fees that have been charged or indicate a serious departure from standards by a Member.
It is expected that conciliation will be attempted where there is a possibility of 'common ground' between the parties. Possible examples are complaints where there has been:
- A breakdown in communication between the Member and the Complainer;
- A refusal by the Member to release books, records or information to the Complainer; or
- Where the Member has failed to attend to the Complainer's affairs and the position is capable of remedy and where there are no significant concerns over the Member's conduct or competency.
On receipt of a complaint, ICAS will consider whether or not it would be appropriate to try to resolve the issue(s) through conciliation. If either the Member or the Complainer does not want to attempt conciliation then the matter will be dealt with through the standard complaints process. ICAS will not force conciliation on either party.
A Case Officer in the Investigations Department will run the conciliation process. The process is designed to be flexible, with both Member and Complainer likely to be asked to provide information and responses within relatively short timescales. This may take place through written correspondence, email or telephone conversations.
The Case Officer's aim is to explain to both parties exactly what the other party's position is and to outline what steps could be taken to reach an agreement. The Case Officer will not act as an arbiter for the parties and does not have the power to impose an agreement. It is for the parties to decide whether or not an agreement can be reached and what the details of an agreement would be.
If the parties are unable to agree a satisfactory outcome within a reasonable period of time then ICAS will consider the issues that have been raised in line with the standard complaints process. Members or Complainers who consider that conciliation may be appropriate to their circumstances should read the Conciliation Protocols and contact the Investigations Department to discuss any questions they may have regarding the process.