Policy on Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints

Introduction

Under our Rules, we may reject a complaint at any time if, in the reviewer’s opinion, the complaint is “frivolous or vexatious” (rule 5.4) [1].

The purpose of this policy is to explain how we identify complaints which are “frivolous or vexatious” and what action we take in those circumstances.

In dealing with unreasonably persistent behaviour, we will have regard to our Unacceptable Behaviour Policy.  Under our rules, we may terminate or suspend a review if we consider that a party has acted unreasonably.[2] The Unacceptable Behaviour Policy relates to the behaviour of the individual.  This Policy on Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints relates to the nature of the complaint itself.

What is a frivolous or vexatious complaint?

A frivolous or vexatious complaint can be characterised in a number of ways:

  • Complaints which are obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific, repetitious;
  • Insistence upon pursuing unmeritorious complaints and/or unrealistic outcomes beyond all reason;
  • Insistence upon pursuing meritorious complaints in an unreasonable manner;
  • Complaints which are designed to cause disruption or annoyance;
  • Demands for redress which lack any serious purpose or value.

We understand that if a student contacts us with what they believe is a complaint, then it is a concern to them, whatever others might think. We are sensitive to the fact that if the student raises the same or similar issues repeatedly despite receiving a full response, there may be underlying reasons for this persistence.

Deciding whether a request is frivolous or vexatious is a balancing exercise, taking into account all the circumstances of the case. Our main consideration will be the issues raised in the complaint rather than the behaviour of the student bringing the complaint.

What happens if we decide that a complaint is frivolous or vexatious?

If we decide that a student’s complaint is frivolous or vexatious, we will write to the student explaining that we are terminating our consideration of the complaint under rule 5.4. We will give reasons for our decision. We will send a copy of our letter to the university which is the subject of the complaint.

If the student wishes to appeal against our decision, he or she can do so by writing to the Deputy Adjudicator. The Deputy Adjudicator will review the information on the file, including any representations the student has made, and will decide whether to confirm the decision that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, or to reopen our review.


Rule 5.4 The Reviewer may reject a complaint at any time without full consideration of the merits if, in his or her opinion, the complaint is frivolous or vexatious.

Rule 8 The Reviewer may terminate or suspend consideration of a complaint, as he or she considers appropriate, if it appears to the Reviewer that; a party has unreasonably delayed (8.1.5; 8.2.3) or has otherwise acted unreasonably (8.1.6; 8.2.4).

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