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General Principles

At any stage of the procedure, those involved in attempting a resolution or in investigating a complaint must act in accordance with good practice and certain principles:

Natural justice

Any person against whom a complaint has been made has the right to know the nature and sufficient details of the complaint in order to respond.  It is important that no decision is taken until the complaint has been investigated and the person against who the complaint has been made has had the opportunity to respond.


Both the complainant and the person against whom the complaint has been made may be accompanied to meetings and supported by a trade union representative or a work colleague.


In order to safeguard individuals, confidentiality must be very strictly respected and information limited to those who have a need to know (and only to the extent necessary) for the purposes of the operation of these procedures and for maintenance of good order in the University. The University reserves the right to seek advice from or involve appropriate external authorities if it believes that it is under an obligation to do so. Any breach of confidentiality may result in disciplinary action being instigated. 

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest can be defined as a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgement or actions regarding one interest will be unduly influenced by another interest.  Within the University, a formal investigation will not normally be undertaken or an appeal heard by someone in the same department or institution as the individual/s concerned.  Concerns over conflicts of interest will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Malicious or vexatious complaints

A complaint may be considered to be malicious or vexatious if it is made in bad faith, if deliberately false allegations are made as a form of bullying against a colleague or manager, or where there are a series of frivolous and clearly unfounded allegations. 


A note will be taken at meetings and will be sent to those present.  Notes will not be verbatim but should nevertheless be accurate.  The staff member interviewed will have an opportunity to comment on his/her notes.  The University and all those involved in this process must observe the data protection principles. The Human Resources Division should be consulted about filing and retention of all notes and documents.


A complainant should make a complaint in a timely fashion (normally immediately after the incident or at the latest within three months of the most recent incident or occurrence of the behaviour), and once a complaint is made it must be investigated promptly. While it is important that an investigation is thorough, a long-drawn out investigation is not in the interest of either party.  However, there may be cases in which the investigation of a complaint is unavoidably delayed. Bullying, harassment or other unacceptable behaviour can have a serious effect on people and a complainant may not feel able to make a complaint without initial support or counselling.


Following the conclusion of an investigation it is important that support is given by the Institution to both parties and, if appropriate, other staff in the workplace to try and resume a working relationship and to encourage a dignity at work ethos.