Complaints and appeals

    Consideration of complaints and appeals

    Stakeholders are persons who:
- are certified clients, or applicants for certification;
- are consumers of certified clients or applicants for certification;
- are influenced by or dependent on certified clients or applicants for certification, etc.

    In the work of the CTKAO-expert, only the current / current requirements of regulatory and information documents are used.

    Appeal – an appeal by an interested party of a company decision regarding the certification process, certification decisions, complaints decisions, validity period, scope and/or scope of the certificate.
Complaint - an expression of dissatisfaction with the actions of an organization, its products or the process of handling complaints, explicitly or implicitly involving a response or resolution, as well as an expression of disagreement of interested parties with the actions of a certified organization in the process of carrying out its activities within the framework of an issued certificate.

    A stakeholder is a person or group with an interest in the activities or success of an organization.
Complainant/Appeal – a person, organization or its representative filing a complaint/appeal.
A dispute is a disagreement between a company and an interested party.
CM - management system;
QMS - quality management system;
CC - Certification Council CTKAO-expert.

    The procedure regulates the terms for consideration of complaints and appeals, non-compliance with which entails the responsibility of the guilty party.

    In order to make independent and objective decisions on complaints of interested parties, as well as appeals against decisions made on certification, CTCAO-expert established an independent CC, which, among other things, performs dispute resolution functions.

    The principle of distribution of costs between the parties imposes on the parties an obligation of reasonable cooperation in resolving disputes; determines the conditions for disqualification or removal of members of the CC CTCAO-expert.

    This procedure introduces sanctions for violation of the obligations of the Parties on reasonable cooperation and for non-compliance by a member of the CC with the requirement to voluntarily recuse himself in the presence of a personal interest in the outcome of the case in order to exclude the possibility of violating the principles of impartiality.

    Before applying to the CC, the applicant must follow the procedure for filing a complaint directly with the CTKAO-expert. The applicant can be any person/organization involved in the certification process or interested in the results of certification conducted by the CTCAO-expert or the person/organization that received such a certificate. Initially, in order to file a complaint, the applicant can contact the CTCAO-expert by any available method (by phone, e-mail, website). An employee of the CTCAO-expert who receives such a request orally notifies the applicant that he must file and send a formal complaint directly to the Director of the CTCAO-expert, in which:
- state the subject of the complaint,
- potential parties to the conflict are identified,
- describes the participation of the applicant in the events that preceded the application and caused the filing of a complaint with the certification body,
- a solution is proposed (if necessary).

    Written appeals containing signs of a complaint must be immediately registered in the Complaints Register.

    The complaint must be filed within 10 days from the date of the event giving rise to the complaint. CTCAO-expert has the right to reject a complaint that does not contain the information specified above, is filed later than 10 days from the date of the event, or does not concern certification actions for which CTCAO-expert is responsible.

    The refusal must be in writing, explaining the reason for the refusal and indicating the possibility of their elimination and, information on how to correct the deficiencies. A notice of refusal to consider the complaint is prepared by the responsible person at the direction of the Director of the CTCAO-expert and sent to the applicant at the addresses indicated in the application. The specified notice must be sent no later than 3 days from the moment the relevant decision was made.
The decision to refuse to accept the complaint as inconsistent with the requirements for filing it can be appealed to the CC by sending an appeal. The CTKAO-expert has 10 days to consider an application with a complaint. The countdown starts from the moment of receipt of an application that meets the requirements.

    After registration, if the complaint is justified, it is transferred to the CC for the appointment of a responsible executor, investigation and decision on it. Members of the SS, as well as the responsible executor, should not be related to the subject of this complaint. In the event that the complaint is not directly related to the actions of the Director of the CTCAO-expert, then, as a rule, he makes the final decision regarding the complaint. After completing this work, the responsible executor prepares an initial response to the applicant, which should include:
- information about the receipt of the application;
- registration information and number;
- information on the terms of consideration of the complaint;
- a summary of the expected actions of CTCAO-expert to consider this application.

    The initial response must be sent to the applicant no later than 1 week from the date of receipt of the application.

    When considering a complaint, it is mandatory to send a letter to the party against which the complaint has been filed, with a request to clarify the situation. If, during the consideration, the complainant and the complained party settle their dispute, the CTCAO-expert prepares a draft of the corresponding decision. In this case, if the respondent in the complaint is a certified CTCAO-expert client, questions regarding the subject of the complaint are included in the nearest CM check by the time the complaint is filed.

    In the event that the respondent party does not respond to the requests of the CTCAO-expert and does not agree to reasonable cooperation in order to resolve the dispute, the CTCAO-expert reserves the right to conduct an additional check of the defendant's MS, suspend or cancel the certificate of conformity. If the CTCAO-expert determines the need for an unscheduled inspection, it must be carried out within 90 days from the date of such a decision.
In the course of working with a complaint, the CS conducts an investigation to identify internal and / or external causes of the complaint and prepares decisions aimed at satisfying the complaint, eliminating the cause of the identified non-compliance, and improving the functioning of the CTKAO-expert QMS.

    The decision on the complaint is approved by the CC. In cases where the complaint concerns directly the Director of the CTCAO-expert, the CC takes place without his participation.

    After agreeing and approving the response to the applicant, dispute resolution measures are recorded in the minutes of the CC meeting indicating the deadlines and responsible persons and are put under control. A response indicating the planned activities must be sent to the applicant in accordance with the established deadlines. The answer must be issued in writing and signed by the Director of the CTCAO-expert, or the chairman of the CC of the CTCAO-expert.

    The answer must contain:
- information on the taken and planned corrective measures;
- information on the developed corrective and preventive actions;
- a request for the consent of the applicant with the proposed activities.

    If the applicant agrees with the proposed measures, or if the applicant does not respond within 10 days from the date of sending the corresponding letter (including by e-mail), after corrective and preventive actions are taken, the complaint is considered closed and the responsible executor a corresponding note is made in the log of complaints. In the event that a letter of disagreement is received from the applicant, this complaint is additionally considered and a final decision is made, of which the applicant is informed.

    If the applicant is not satisfied with the decision, he can appeal it to the CC CTKAO-expert.
Information on the implementation of corrective and preventive actions is sent to the applicant no later than 6 months from the date of registration of the application. The applicant, who has received information about the results of the implementation of corrective and preventive actions, may appeal to the CC CTCAO-expert in case of disagreement with these results.

    The effectiveness of the implementation of corrective and preventive actions taken as part of the work on complaints is checked as part of the internal audits of the QMS.
Information about complaints, appeals is considered during the analysis of the QMS by the management of the CTKAO-expert.

    The applicant sends an appeal to the CC in the event of:
- the impossibility of resolving the issue reflected in the complaint;
- disagreement with the decision of CTKAO-expert on certification activities;
- disagreement with the decision of the Director of CTCAO-expert on the complaint.

    When considering appeals, the CC acts in accordance with and on the basis of this manual and the Regulations on the Certification Council.

    The appeal must be considered within 10 days from the date of receipt and registration of the application. An appeal can be considered both at a scheduled and extraordinary meeting of the CC.
The appeal is filed by the party whose right, in its opinion, has been violated or the decision made does not satisfy the specified party on the merits.

    An appeal to the SS must:
- determine the party in respect of which it is filed or the parties to the proceedings, their postal addresses, telephones, e-mail addresses, other coordinates for communication;
- contain a statement of the subjects of the dispute;
- describe the decisions and other results of contacts and hearings between the parties at the time of the appeal;
- describe the interest of the applicant's side in the settlement of the dispute and the reason for contacting the CC;
- contain a duly certified consent of the applicant to consider the submitted application by the CC of the CTKAO-expert and the obligation to execute such an application or, in case of disagreement with it, appeal the decision to a higher authority;
- propose a solution for discussion in the SS;
- be signed by an authorized person with evidence of such authority attached;
- include annexes containing documentary or other evidence on which the appeal is based and a list listing such evidence and/or documents.

    The appeal must be received by mail or e-mail to the CTCAO-expert. After that, the appeal is registered by the Head of the Conformity Assessment Department in the Appeals Register (Link Form Album) and goes to the expert CTCAO Secretary, who must:
- send copies of the application and all documents attached to it,
- in the event that the Secretary of the CC considers it necessary to involve someone to participate in the proceedings (giving explanations or providing documents), the CC must send this person a copy of the appeal and the documents attached to it with a request for assistance in the proceedings.

    The Secretary of the CC sends the members of the CC a package of documents on appeal and agrees on the dates and form of the next (extraordinary) meeting of the CC.

    The generated package should include the following documents:
- the text of the appeal, which was received from the Applicant, outlining the essence of the issue;
- copies of the documents attached to the appeal;
- copies of additional documents provided by the Applicant at the request of the CC;
- a notification indicating the dates for holding a face-to-face meeting of the CC, a videoconference or receiving written opinions of members of the CC on the appeal.

    At the end of the period for preparing the appeal for consideration, the Secretary of the CC sends a notification to all parties involved in the process that the requirements for the submission of the appeal and briefs on the case have been completed and the case is ready for consideration.

    In all cases where the CRO needs to reach a decision on an accepted issue or appeal decision, the CRO may do so by:
- at a regular meeting;
- at an extraordinary meeting;
- at an organized videoconference;
- by written voting by mail, e-mail.

    The decisions taken by the COP should be communicated to the parties involved in the proceedings, and copies, if necessary, made publicly available. Information on the decision must be sent to the applicant of the appeal, if he was absent from the meeting of the CC, within 10 days from the date of receipt of the appeal.

    The decisions of the CC, the content, conclusions about the presence of any inconsistencies in the activities of the CTCAO-expert should be reviewed, analyzed by the management of the CTCAO-expert, and after that, the necessary corrective actions should be developed and implemented.

    Any discrepancies identified by the CC in the activities of the certified company, in respect of which the decision was made, should be considered by the CTCAO-expert in accordance with the certification procedures.

    If necessary, information on the corrective actions taken is sent to the applicant no later than 6 months from the date of receipt of the application with the appeal.

    Information on the decisions taken by the members of the CC at the meeting is registered by the Secretary of the CC and a response is prepared to the applicant. Decisions of the CC on the consideration of appeals are recorded in the minutes of the CC meeting, which is signed by all its members.
If any party was not satisfied with the decision of the CC CTCAO-expert, the interested party participating in the consideration of the appeal may apply for consideration of this dispute directly to a higher authority (accreditation body) in accordance with its procedures.

    Persons involved in any proceedings initiated in accordance with these guidelines are required to reasonably cooperate with both the CTC-expert CC and other parties to resolve issues in the dispute.
The obligation of reasonable cooperation includes the following points:
- compliance with all requirements for documented information, testimonies and other forms of participation in the process;
- accelerating the dispute resolution process;
- negotiating to resolve the dispute in good faith;
- correctness when performing any of the procedures in accordance with this manual.

    The Chairman of the COP may ask the party suspected of violating the obligation of reasonable cooperation to refute this suspicion or to explain their conduct in writing.

    If at any time during the consideration of a dispute, in accordance with these guidelines, any person of the reviewing body knows for sure that his participation in the resolution of the dispute violates the principle of the inadmissibility of conflicts of interest, which should guide both the CTCAO expert and the members of the CC when decision-making, such a person must immediately inform the body considering the case and temporarily withdraw from further participation in the process.

    The parties to a dispute may object to the participation of any person involved in proceedings in accordance with these guidelines if such participation would violate the principles of impartiality, confidentiality, and the absence of conflicts of interest that should guide decisions. The parties may express their objections in the form of a written petition addressed to the CC.

    In the event that the CC is deprived of the legally capable quorum necessary for the consideration of the dispute, the competent members of the CC may:
- appoint another member to replace the disqualified one;
- suspend further consideration of the issue and refer it directly to the appropriate body for consideration in a higher instance;
- in any case where, due to disqualification and self-recusal, the remaining members of the CC have to act in a smaller number than necessary for a quorum, the CC may continue, provided that the remaining members or the member who was not disqualified participate in the resolution of the dispute.

    In accordance with this procedure, each party shall bear the costs of participation in the proceedings. The costs incurred are divided proportionally between the parties and reimbursed as follows:
- in the event that the complaint or appeal was fully satisfied, the "losing" party must reimburse the costs charged to their account;
- in the event that the application or appeal has been completely rejected, the applicants must reimburse the costs charged to their account;
- in all other cases, the CC must determine the respective obligations of the parties involved in the consideration of the disputed issue.

    Costs include costs incurred by the COP at all stages of the case, namely:
- expenses associated with the receipt, collection, printing, duplication, transfer, storage or other processing of materials and documents submitted by the parties;
- expenses related to on-site inspections, hearings of testimony, speeches of the parties in debates, maintenance of invited experts or consultants, meetings of the CC;
- reasonable overhead costs to pay for the travel of members of the CC or the certification body, their food and accommodation;
- any other costs incurred for the authorization.

    Documentation of all production costs. transferred to the parties involved in the consideration.

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