Although it is expected to be an unusual event, a client may wish to lodge a formal appeal against the membership of an audit team (auditors, observers, and interpreters), a non-conformance raised during an audit, the certification decision/recommendation made or the handling of a complaint or dispute. WCS maintain a formal procedure for processing appeals. The following can be considered a brief overview of the appeals process:
a. The client shall be advised that they have the right of appeal and shall be instructed that the appeal must be made in writing. The client shall be instructed to refer to the requirements in the Certification Regulations and the contract for certification.
b. The client shall be informed that the formal appeal must be sent to WCS within 10 working days of the dispute arising and shall be provided with a copy of the appeals procedure which explains that the appeal is submitted to an appeals panel.
c. On receipt of the appeal the Certification Manager must be notified.
d. The Certification Manager shall enter full details of the appeal in the Appeals Register and acknowledge receipt of the appeal.
e. The Certification Manager shall assign an independent appeals panel who have not been involved in the audit, complaint investigation, dispute or decision.
f. The appeals panel must have at least two members and one must be a trained auditor in the scheme.
g. The Certification Manager shall agree the date and place for the appeal to take place. This must be within 30 days of receipt of the appeal.
h. The client appealing will be asked to provide any addition evidence and can attend if required. Every effort should be made to obtain factual and documented evidence for review.
i. The Certification Manager shall advise the appellant, in writing, of the date and place of the appeal.
j. The appellant shall be advised of progress or if timescales are likely to be exceeded.
k. If considered necessary, the auditor may be invited to attend the meeting to provide a first-hand account of the case, or alternatively, be asked to take part in a teleconferencing call.
l. The appeals panel decision shall take account of the information provided and also the results of previous similar appeals. The details of the appeal will be fully evaluated. If the appeals panel feels that a decision cannot be made without further technical support then the appeal hearing will be suspended depending input and review from a technical expert or impartiality committee member representing the scheme.
m. Records of the appeal will be maintained including minutes and decisions.
n. The appeal decision will be communicated in a timely manner to the appellant.
o. The decision of the appeal panel is final.
p. Submission, investigation and decision of the appeal will not result in any discriminatory actions.
Q. If the appeal has been unsuccessful then the certification manager shall request the client to provide the necessary corrections, and corrective actions and that full details are recorded and records retained for subsequent review.
r. WCS shall be responsible for all decisions at all levels of the appeals-handling process and will not outsource decisions.