What you need to know
In summary, a complaint against a member must be made in writing on the official Complaints Form which has an accompanying set of Guidance Notes for Complainants. If the complaint is considered by the Complaints Assessor that it would constitute a breach of the Institute’s Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct, it will be submitted to the Professional Complaints Panel and copied to the member against whom the complaint has been made. The Panel will consider the complaint, any comments from the member, further comments from the parties to the complaint and will decide whether to uphold or dismiss the complaint. If the complaint is upheld, the Panel will impose a disciplinary sanction. The complainant has a right of appeal at each stage of the process. The accused member has the right of appeal following the decision of the Panel and/or of the Appeal Board.
The Institute, through the Professional Complaints Panel, Appeal Board or the Council cannot fine or order any other financial penalty against a member.
For further guidance, download the form below and read the important information on this page.
The Institute of Chartered Foresters, as the chartered body for tree professionals in the UK, is committed to ensuring that the standard of competence and conduct of its members is to a level that the public has a right to expect.
These guidelines contain advice for members of the public and other professions, as well as members of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, who may be dissatisfied with the professional conduct of an Institute member. They are intended to guide potential complainants through the early stages of formulating a complaint, to help determine whether there are grounds to complain and to explain the processes that will be undertaken in reaching a decision.
The Institute of Chartered Foresters makes no charge for dealing with complaints against its members.
You can complain to the Institute of Chartered Foresters if you think that one of its members is guilty of ‘unprofessional conduct’ or of displaying a serious lack of competence. This situation could arise when you have grounds to think that the member has not been honest, ethical or competent in undertaking their work, or in the way in which they have communicated or acted in their professional capacity. Unprofessional conduct does not mean ‘negligence’.
Minor transgressions of good practice do not usually count as unprofessional conduct but can do so if they form part of a pattern of unacceptable professional behavior. If you have suffered loss or damage as a result of the actions of a member of the Institute, you should initially seek to reach an agreement with the member through negotiation or mediation; alternatively you can seek redress through arbitration or through the courts.
If the actions involved are considered to be sufficiently serious however, and for which there seems to be no reasonable excuse, a complaint of unacceptable professional conduct can be submitted to the Institute.
Where a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters has been found guilty of a criminal offence, they can also be considered to be acting unprofessionally, even if the criminal offence has nothing directly to do with their work. Such circumstances will depend on the nature of the criminal offence committed.
As members of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, their conduct is governed by the Institute’s Royal Charter, By-Laws, and Regulations. A Code of Conduct sets out the actual standards which govern professional conduct in more detail and the Regulations contain specific procedures which describe how the Institute deals with complaints against its members.
You can complain about anyone who is a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, whatever their level of membership. Chartered members will have the letters MICFor or FICFor after their name on business cards, letter-heads, email signatures etc. or more generally in their advertising materials. There are other classes of membership, such as Students and Associates. These individuals are not yet full members of the Institute and don’t therefore have any letters after their names.
If you’re not sure whether the person you want to complain about is a member of the Institute, you can search the current list of members and their category of membership.
You should note that we can only deal with complaints against individuals who are current members of the Institute.
You should complete and sign the Complaint Form and submit it to the address shown at the end of the form. Further information on how to complete the Complaint Form is provided on the form. Please let us know if you have any difficulties with written or verbal communication so we can adapt to your needs where possible.
Phone: 0131 240 1425
Once a signed Complaint Form has been received by the Institute the complaint then follows a formal process towards resolution.
There are four potential stages to the process:
A brief explanation of each stage is given below.
Provided the complaint is not premature, that is you have tried to resolve the matter with the member first, we will agree a Summary of Complaint with you. This is to check that the Institute understands the complaint fully and has correctly identified your specific concerns.
Once the Summary of Complaint has been agreed, the Institute will undertake an assessment of the eligibility of the complaint. To be eligible, a complaint must meet certain criteria. These criteria can differ and will depend on the type of complaint.
If the Institute decides that a complaint is ineligible, we will not be able to consider it further but will write to both you and the member concerned to explain our decision.
If we decide that a complaint is eligible and should be considered further, we write to you and member concerned informing you both that the complaint has been accepted and will now be investigated.
A Complaints Assessor (a senior member of the Institute) will evaluate the evidence currently available and consider the complaint made. He/she may contact you and the member concerned if they consider resolution should be possible from the information available.
If they do not consider it will be possible to reach a resolution from the information provided, they will make further enquiries which might include, but are not limited to:
- examining the member’s files
- asking the parties for further information
- approaching other people for information
When the Complaints Assessor has completed their investigation, they will contact you and the member concerned with their findings. These findings are set out in an Investigation Report which is also sent to the Institute’s Professional Complaints Panel.
Complaints will be referred to the Professional Complaints Panel in order for the Panel to make a decision as to whether to uphold the complaint.
The Professional Complaints Panel can decide that they need more information in order for them to reach their decision. In some instances, for example, the Panel may decide that it would be appropriate to hold an ‘oral hearing’ where you and the member concerned can give information to the Professional Complaints Panel in person.
If the complaint is upheld, the Panel will then determine what disciplinary sanction is appropriate.
Please be aware that the Institute cannot go beyond the disciplinary sanctions available under its Bylaws and Regulations; for example, the Institute cannot order a financial penalty against a member either by way of a fine or award of monetary compensation.
The Institute of Chartered Foresters will check that action determined by the Panel is implemented and will take further enforcement action if this is not the case.
The Panel’s determination is final. If you disagree with their findings, you can request that the matter is reviewed by the Institute’s Complaints Appeal Board. To do this you must specify the reason/s for seeking a review. You should also bear in mind that the Complaints Appeal Board has no power to rehear the case and can only order the Professional Complaints Panel to do so in exceptional circumstances.
A member of the Institute has the right of appeal to the Complaints Appeal Board on specific grounds.