Table of Contents
- 1. Title
- 2. Commencement and applicability
- 3. Definitions
- 4. How to complain about a Member
- 5. Society may initiate inquiry
- 6. Initial investigation of the complaint
- 7. Determination of the complaint
- 8. Determination of penalties
- 9. Publication for learning purposes
- 10. Costs
- 11. Appointments, delegated functions and powers
- 12. General provisions about procedures
These Rules shall be known as the “Complaints Procedures”.
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2. Commencement and applicability
2.1 These Rules come into force on 10 August 2023
2.2 These Rules give effect to section 18 of the Act.
2.3 Any complaint received after the commencement date shall be determined according to the procedures set out in these Rules, even if the events to which the complaint refers pre-date the commencement date.
2.4 Matters which commenced to be processed under earlier versions of these Rules shall be determined in accordance with the Rules in place at the time of receipt of the complaint.Return to top
In these Rules unless the context otherwise requires—
- Academy Executive Committee means the Academy Executive Committee constituted under section 37 of the Act
- Act means the Royal Society of New Zealand Act 1997
- Chair means the Chair of the Academy Executive Committee
- Chief Executive means the Chief Executive Officer of the Society
- Code means the Royal Society of New Zealand Code of Professional Standards and Ethics issued under section 34 of the Act, as adopted by resolution of the Council, and includes any amendments to the Code issued to replace it
- complaint means a complaint or complaints made under Rule 4.1
- complainant means the person or persons making a complaint
- Complaint Determination Committee or Committee means a committee appointed under Rule 7.1
- Council means the Council of the Society constituted under section 20 of the Act
- Initial Investigation Panel or Panel means a panel appointed under Rule 6
- material conflict of interest means, in relation to any matter, a financial or other interest of a person that is likely to affect the person's judgement in relation to the matter
- Member means a Member of the Royal Society of New Zealand in accordance with sections 9 to 19 of the Act. Section 9 of the Act provides that Membership of the Society consists of the following:
b. Ordinary Members (known as Professional Members, Associate Members and Student Members);
d. Constituent Organisations;
e. Regional Constituent Organisations (known as Branches);
f. Affiliate Organisations that are Members in accordance with section 15(2) of the Act;
g. Honorary Members;
h. Honorary Fellows.
- notify means to send a written notice (by post or email, or other similar means of communication) to the last known address of the person concerned
- respondent means the Member or Members complained about or into whose conduct the Society has initiated an inquiry
- Society means the Royal Society of New Zealand continued by section 3 of the Act
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4. How to complain about a Member
4.1 A complaint to the Society alleging that there has been a breach by a Member of one or more of the professionalism and ethical obligation, membership obligation or good character obligation, as set out in General Rule 2.8, must meet the requirements of 4.2.
4.2 To be valid a complaint must be submitted in writing to the Chief Executive and contain:
a. The complainant’s full name, postal address, phone and email contact details;
b. The name of the Member against whom the complaint is alleged;
c. The complainant’s interest or involvement in the matters complained of;
d. The nature of the alleged breach, including identifying those obligations the complainant considers to be breached;
e. If part or all of the alleged breach is of the professionalism and ethics obligation, the specific clauses of Part 3 of the Code alleged to be breached;
f. All information that the complainant considers relevant to the alleged breach; and
g. A statement of agreement that the complainant will comply with these Rules.
4.3 The Chief Executive may set aside a complaint if in their opinion the Member complained about has no material obligation to the Society under General Rule 2.8 in respect of the matters that form the basis of the complaint. The complainant shall be informed accordingly.
4.4 Should the Chief Executive receive an intended complaint that, in their opinion, does not contain sufficient information to be valid, or is unsatisfactory in its form the Chief Executive shall request that information or the revision of the form of the complaint and set a reasonable period, not exceeding. thirty (30) days, for the revised complaint to be received. If a revised complaint is not received by the expiration of the period set by the Chief Executive or the revised complaint does not provide sufficient information or is not in satisfactory form, the Chief Executive shall deem the complaint to have lapsed.
4.5 Should the Chief Executive receive two or more intended complaints that allege substantially similar breaches of obligations relating to the same matter, the Chief Executive may treat the complaints as a single complaint and/or set aside all but the first received complaint for consideration as a valid complaint.
4.6 The Chief Executive may explore with the complainant (and where appropriate with the respondent), the possibility of the complaint being resolved by an alternative process such as conciliation, mediation or arbitration. If a complainant is amenable to attempting resolution in such a manner, the Chief Executive may delay taking further steps under these Rules whilst they are satisfied that there is a reasonable chance of resolution. If the Chief Executive is satisfied that resolution has been achieved, they may deem the complaint to have lapsed or to be resolved.Return to top
5. Society may initiate inquiry
5.1 The Council may initiate an inquiry if it has reason to suspect that a Member may have breached the obligations on that Member, or supplied false or misleading information for the purpose of becoming a Member.
5.2 The Council may delegate the power to initiate an inquiry.
5.3 If Rule 5.1 applies, the Society may—
a. Carry out an investigation of the matter in accordance with these Rules as if it were a complaint;
b. If a complaint on that matter has already been made, continue to inquire into the matter even if the complaint is subsequently withdrawn.Return to top
6. Initial investigation of the complaint
6.1 Valid complaints will be considered by an Initial Investigation Panel comprised of two or three Fellows or Companions of the Society, selected by the Chair.
6.2 In the event that a member of the Panel ceases to be available for any reason, the Chair may, unless the Chair considers that the appointment of a fresh Panel is needed in the circumstances, appoint a substitute who shall be a Fellow or a Companion of the Society.
6.3 If it is expedient and would not prejudice the fairness of the Panel’s process, the Chair may at any time supplement the Panel with a further appointee, who shall be a Fellow or a Companion of the Society.
6.4 On receipt of a valid complaint under Rule 4, or on commencement of an inquiry under Rule 5, the Chief Executive must open a file for the complaint and notify the respondent(s) of the nature of the complaint, and the membership of the Panel.
6.5 The Panel may invite the respondent to provide any written information that the respondent considers relevant to the complaint, and must allow a reasonable period not exceeding thirty (30) days for the respondent to supply such information.
6.6 The Panel shall review the complaint and any information received from the respondent under Rule 6.5 and may decide no further action will be taken on the complaint if the Panel considers that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case further action is unnecessary or inappropriate, including by reason of:
a. there is insufficient evidence to establish that a breach has occurred or may have occurred; or
b. any breach, alleged or proven, is insufficiently grave to warrant further pursuit, including by reference to a Complaint Determination Committee under section 7; or
c. the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith; or
d. the complaint is substantially similar to other complaints relating to the same event or the subject matter of the complaint is not materially different to a previous complaint against the same respondent, which has already been disposed of under these Rules; or
e. the complainant has not adequately complied with the provisions of these Rules; or
f. the person alleged to be aggrieved does not wish action to be taken or continued; or
g. an inquiry into the complaint is not practicable because the complainant has failed to provide information that would be needed for referral of the complaint to a Complaint Determination Committee; or
h. a hearing on the complaint is no longer practicable given the time elapsed since the matter giving rise to the complaint; or
i. the complaint is not amenable to resolution by a Complaint Determination Committee, including by reason of its demanding the open-ended evaluation of contentious expert opinion or of contested scientific evidence amongst researchers and scholars; or
j. the complaint refers to a matter in which the respondent was not acting as an individual including but not limited to acting for, presenting the perspective or advice of the Society or other academy, learned society or professional body; or
k. The complaint refers to matters for which the respondent has no obligations to the Society under General Rule 2.8; or
l. The respondent has taken reasonable steps to comply with their obligations to the Society under General Rule 2.8 in respect of the matters set out in the complaint.
6.7 Before making a decision on a complaint, the Panel may explore, with the complainant and respondent, the possibility of the matter which gave rise to the complaint being referred to conciliation, mediation, arbitration, or another dispute resolution process.
6.8 If a complaint is referred to a dispute resolution process under Rule 6.7 and the complainant and respondent fail to resolve the matter within sixty (60) days of the referral, or within any other time period that the Panel thinks fit, the Panel must make a decision on the complaint.
6.9 The Panel shall consider any submissions received under Rule 6.5 and shall finalise its intended decision.
6.10 The intended decision of the Panel as to whether further action should be taken on the complaint and the reasons for that decision shall be notified to both the complainant and the respondent. The complainant and the respondent shall be given a reasonable opportunity, not exceeding twenty (20) days, to make a written submission. The Panel shall then finalise its decision.
6.11 The complainant may, at any time, withdraw their complaint in writing to the Chief Executive. The Panel may choose to continue its consideration of the complaint if in the Panel’s view it is in the public interest to do so, but shall both represent the complaint as one initiated by the Society, and take reasonable steps not to disclose the identity of the original complainant. Otherwise, no further action will be taken.
6.12 If the final decision of the Panel is that no further action should be taken, then
a. that decision is final and is not subject to appeal.
b. the Panel shall notify the Chief Executive of the decision and the reason for it under Rule 6.6(a-l) or otherwise;
c. the Chief Executive will notify the complainant, respondent, Council and Academy Executive Committee of the decision
6.13 If the Panel decision is that the complaint should go to a Complaint Determination Committee, it must identify in its decision the obligations, and if applicable the clauses in Part 3 of the Code, which it considers may have been breached, and if those do not correspond to the obligations and clauses alleged to be breached in the complaint, state the reasons for the difference.
6.14 The Panel’s decision in Rule 6.13 shall be notified to the Chief Executive, who shall notify the Academy Executive Committee, Council, respondent and complainant.Return to top
7. Determination of the complaint
7.1 If it is decided that further action will be taken on the complaint, the Chair shall establish a Complaint Determination Committee as follows:
a. a convenor who is a Fellow or Companion of the Society, but must neither be the Chair not a member of the Initial Investigation Panel; and
b. one or two other members who must be Fellows, Companions, Professional Members or Associate Members of the Society but must neither be the Chair nor a member of the Initial Investigation Panel; and
c. one or two members who are not Members of the Society but who are considered to bring a perspective representative of the public interest; and
d. in order to ensure the inclusion of particular knowledge or experience relevant to the complaint amongst the Committee, the Chair may appoint a non-member under b. provided the Chair is satisfied the appointee holds an equivalent membership in a body of comparable standing to the Society in one or more of its constituent disciplines.
7.2 The Committee must, before making its decision on a complaint-
a. advise the complainant and the respondent of the process that the Committee intends to follow; and
b. provide the complainant with an opportunity to put all information about the complaint before the Committee; and
c. provide the complaint and all material relating to the complaint to the respondent (subject to confidentiality considerations in exceptional cases); and
d. give the respondent at least fifteen (15) working days to make submissions in writing or orally to the Committee; and
e. ensure that both parties have reasonable opportunity to address evidence presented and arguments made by each other.
7.3 In setting its process under Rule 7.2(a) the Committee may do any of the following:
a. make, or appoint a person to make, any enquiries it considers necessary:
b. engage counsel, who may be present at a hearing of the Committee, to advise the Committee on matters of law, procedure, and evidence:
c. request the respondent or the complainant or both to provide to the Committee, within a specified period of not less than 15 working days that the Committee thinks fit, any documents, things, or information that are in the possession or control of the person and that are relevant to the investigation:
d. take copies of any documents provided to it:
e. request that the respondent or the complainant appear before the Committee, at that person’s own cost, on no less than fifteen (15) working days’ notice:
f. receive any evidence it thinks fit:
g. request a person giving evidence to verify a statement by statutory declaration:
h. provide information to assist the complainant and the respondent to obtain counsel or other advocacy assistance:
i. treat a complaint as having been withdrawn if, in the opinion of the Committee, sufficient information has not been provided by the complainant within a reasonable time to allow a proper investigation to take place.
7.4 The Committee may dismiss the complaint only if any one (or more) of the grounds set out in Rule 6.3(a) to (l) apply, or if, in the opinion of the Committee a breach has not been established in respect of any of the obligations, and if applicable clauses of the Code, identified in the decision of the Panel under Rule 6.13.
7.5 The intended decision of the Committee on whether to dismiss or uphold the complaint and the reasons for that decision shall be notified to both the respondent and the complainant. The Committee will provide a reasonable period of time, not exceeding thirty (30) days, for the complainant and the respondent to make a written submission thereon.
7.6 The Committee shall consider any submissions received under Rule 7.5 and shall finalise its decision.
7.7 The Committee must make its final decision on a complaint in accordance with the following:
a. the Committee must make its decision on the complaint as soon as practicable, but may delay making the decision until the outcome of any legal proceedings that may affect its findings is known; and
b. if the Committee is not unanimous, the decision of the majority of the Committee is the decision of the Committee (but dissenting members may record dissenting views); and
c. the Committee must give reasons in writing for its decision, or the decision of the majority, as the case may be.
7.8 The decision and the reasons for it shall be notified to the Chief Executive who shall advise the Academy Executive Committee, Council, respondent and complainant.
7.9 The decision of the Committee shall be final and not subject to appeal.Return to top
8. Determination of penalties
8.1 Should the decision of the Committee be to uphold the complaint, the Committee shall prepare its intended decision on penalties, which may include:
a. revoking the Member’s Membership of the Society, suspending the Member’s Membership for any period, or suspending the Member’s Membership until a condition requiring the respondent to undertake training or professional development is met; or
b. requiring the Member to relinquish, or be suspended for any period from, any official positions within the Society; or
c. reprimanding or admonishing the Member; and
d. notifying all Members of the Society of the name of the Member concerned and the circumstances of the breach; and
e. notifying any relevant professional body of the name of the Member concerned and the circumstances of the breach; and
f. publication of the name of the Member concerned and the circumstances of the breach.
8.2 In Rule 8.1 “publication” includes but is not limited to placing a notice in electronic newsletters or other written publications of the Society, placing a notice in the media, for example in a newspaper, or sending a notice to regulators or other parties within whose domain of activity the subject matter of the complaint falls.
8.3 Prior to making its intended decision on penalties, the Committee may explore with the respondent and the complainant whether restorative actions satisfactory to the complainant might be agreed between the respondent and the complainant.
8.4 In determining its intended decision on penalties the Committee must take into account the gravity of the breach, any relevant mitigating factors (including whether any restorative actions have occurred or will occur), the need for protection of the public interest, and the benefit of informing other scientists, technologists or humanities scholars of the breach. and it may also seek the advice of the Council.
8.5 The Committee, at its sole discretion, may allow the complainant and the respondent an opportunity, not exceeding fourteen (14) days, during which to make submissions relating to penalties.
8.6 The Committee must inform the Council of its intended decision on penalties and must allow reasonable time for the Council to provide any advice prior to the Committee finalising its decision.
8.7 The Committee must make its decision on penalties (which may only be selected from those set out in Rule 8.1), in accordance with the following:
a. the Committee must make its decision as soon as practicable, but may delay making the decision until the outcome of any legal proceedings that may affect its findings is known; and
b. the Committee must have regard to any advice from the Council in regard to the intended penalties; and
c. if the Committee is not unanimous, the decision of the majority of the Committee is the decision of the Committee but dissenting members may record dissenting views.
8.8 The Chief Executive must, as soon as practicable after receiving the decision of the Committee:
a. notify the Council, Academy Executive Committee, complainant and the respondent of the decision on penalties; and
b. implement any decision that requires action by the Society, but must allow at least twenty-eight (28) days after notifying the complainant and the respondent before implementing the penalties.
8.9 The decision of the Committee on penalties shall be final and not subject to appeal.Return to top
9. Publication for learning purposes
9.1 If, in the view of Academy Executive Committee or the Council, dissemination of a summary of the matters raised in the complaint and the decision of either the Initial Investigation Panel or the Complaint Determination Committee would be beneficial to other scientists, technologists or humanities scholars, the Academy Executive Committee or the Council, as is appropriate, may require the Chief Executive to prepare and publish such a summary in consultation with the Panel or Committee as appropriate, and in such manner that does not identify the complainant or respondent. In such circumstances both the respondent and complainant shall be allowed a reasonable period, not exceeding fourteen (14) days to comment on the proposed text prior to publication.Return to top
10.1 The Society is not liable for any expense by way of travelling, engagement of counsel, calling of any witness or in any other matter connected with either a Panel's or a Committee’s consideration of any matter under these Rules, whether incurred by a Member whose conduct is under investigation or by any person or persons who make a complaint.Return to top
11. Appointments, delegated functions and powers
11.1 The Council delegates to the Chair the powers to implement these Rules, including, but not limited to:
a. appointing a person to a role under these Rules; or
b. revoking a person's appointment to a role under these Rules by written notice to him or her; or
c. reconstituting any body of persons appointed under these Rules by written notice.
11.2 The Council delegates to the Complaint Determination Committee the powers to decide penalties.
11.3 A person appointed under these Rules may resign the appointment by written notice to the Chief Executive.
11.4 Should a person appointed to a role by these Rules have a material conflict of interest, that person must resign from the role immediately the conflict is identified, and the Chair of the Academy Executive Committee shall appoint a substitute person to undertake or continue the role.
11.5 In the event that the Chair of the Academy Executive Committee has a material conflict of interest, or is otherwise unavailable, the President of the Society shall appoint a member of the Academy Executive Committee to undertake the role of the Chair in regard to those complaints for which the conflict exists, or for the period of time during which the Chair is unavailable.
11.6 All decisions made by a person in accordance with these Rules prior to resigning from a role may not be changed by the substitute.Return to top
12. General provisions about procedures
12.1 Every person or body appointed under these Rules must—
a. observe the rules of natural justice; and
b. give reasons for its decisions.
12.2 Except as otherwise provided in any other rules of the Society or in these Rules, a person or body of persons appointed under these Rules may regulate the person’s or body’s own procedure as it thinks fit.
12.3 Whilst a complaint is in process under these Rules, the complainant and respondent are obligated to maintain confidentiality about the complaint, any information given to the Panel and/or Committee, and the deliberations of the Panel and/or committee.
12.4 Unless the Panel or Committee otherwise decides, all draft and final decisions and related documents issued to either or both the respondent or complainant under these Rules must be treated as confidential by the recipient.Return to top