Family Mediation Complaints Procedure

The Family Mediation Centre complies with the requirements of the Family Mediators Association (FMA).

The Family Mediation Centre is committed to providing a very high quality family mediation service which meets the needs of our clients and to treating our clients fairly.

We welcome your feedback, praise and concerns being raised with us so that we can improve the practice and learn.

Who can bring a complaint?

A client, a previous client or a qualifying third party could make a complaint.

If you have a complaint about our practice contact us with the details in writing. Kindly set out as clearly as you can how the complaint has arisen and the nature of the complaint.

Deadline to bring a complaint

A complaint that relates to a breach in the Family Mediation Council’s Code of Practice needs to be made within three months i.e. complaints that relate to the manner in which the mediation was conducted as a whole must be made within three months of the date of the last mediation session.

The mediator will record the feedback. All complaints will be acknowledged within 10 days of receipt. The complaint should be addressed to Austin Chessell. If the case was mediated by Austin Chessell, Austin will provide details of an independent PPC to write to.

The other participant(s) in attendance at mediation will be informed that a complaint has been received and the complaints procedure invoked.

When you cannot bring a complaint

It is common for a family mediator to make contact with a potential mediation client(s). Complaints about a family mediator making contact with a potential client do not need to be investigated by mediators and the FMC will not accept complaints for this.

This situation would not qualify as a third party e.g. where a family mediator has completed a court form indicating that one client has attended a MIAM without informing the second mediation participant or inviting them to attend a MIAM themselves. In this example a mediator will not investigate a complaint made by someone who does not qualify as a third party and the complaint would not be accepted by the Family Mediation Standard Board (FMSB).

Complaints that appear to be vexatious or of a purely personal nature do not have to be investigated.

All complaints that are within the scope of this policy will be investigated and replied to usually within 30 days of receipt. If more time is needed before a reply can be sent you will be informed of this.

Where appropriate the family mediator will suggest a further mediation session to look to resolve outstanding points.

If you are not happy with the response from the mediator you should explain in writing why your complaint has not been addressed. This will be passed to Austin Chessell or an independent PPC for resolution. Austin or the independent PPC will usually respond within 14 days unless more time is required, in which case you will be informed when the response will be ready.

On reviewing the complaint Austin Chessell may contact an independent PPC if they are not already involved from an earlier stage to review the complaint and seek advice from the independent PPC. If this is required written consent will be sought from clients to release their papers to the independent PPC.

The independent PPC should report within 14 days of receiving the case file to the mediator, who should write to the complainant confirming their decision, usually 7 days of receiving the report.

For further details refer to the Complaints Procedure for the Family Mediation Council if we have not resolved a complaint within the above timescales and all the above steps you may make a formal complaint to the FMC’s FMSB:

The Agreement to Mediate will have been signed by mediation clients which permits information held by the mediator to be shared with the Family Mediation Standards Board in the event that the formal complaint is made to the FMSB to which that information relates.

The FMSB will usually only investigate a complaint if it relates to its Code of Practice or Standards Framework and you have already exhausted our own complaints procedure.

Neither the mediator not the FMSB will be able to disclose any information to third parties that is confidential between the mediator and the mediation participant(s). As a third party is it therefore normal you will only receive limited information in your response to your complaint, even in circumstances where it is considered by the FMSB.

The mediator’s PPC may support the mediator in trying to resolve the matter through discussion or by providing additional information. This could include reviewing the case with the mediator and read the mediator’s case notes and correspondence. The PPC of the mediator will not investigate the complaint.

Possible remedies

Remedies and possible solutions that we will consider include an apology, reimbursement of fees or a discount on a future session, a relevant explanation of how family mediation works or an assurance for future mediation session(s).

Alternative methods of resolving the complaint may also be considered e.g. mediation where both the person bringing the complaint and the mediator would like to proceed.