9.PPS Dealing with Complaints
Membership of the ABRT is personal to an individual Restructuring & Turnaround Practitioner. ABRT Members have an obligation to ensure that engagements are effectively managed, controlled and administered at all times. It is in the interest of complainants and ABRT Members, and in the wider public interest, that complaints are dealt with professionally and expeditiously. Failure to do so can only exacerbate any problem, prolong any sense of grievance felt by a complainant, and undermine confidence in the restructuring and turnaround profession.
As a result, practitioners, their firms and the profession may be brought into disrepute. This paper is intended to remind ABRT Members of their duty to deal properly with complaints, and to suggest some matters that might usefully be considered. It is recognised that ABRT Members may hold other professional memberships or be regulated by government authorities and, as such, their rules may override this ABRT Guidance Material.
On Receipt of a Complaint
It is likely that the following steps will be appropriate:
- A complaint should be acknowledged promptly in writing.
- The ABRT Member should seek to ascertain the background facts as quickly as possible and seek additional information from the complainant as required.
- If the ABRT Member concludes that a complaint is unjustified, the complainant should be provided with a full and clear explanation of the reasons for that conclusion.
- If an error has been made, the ABRT Member should rectify the error promptly and offer a written apology.
- The complainant should always be notified that a complaint can be escalated to the ABRT Board at any time.
- The complainant should be kept aware of the steps that are being taken by the ABRT Member to review and respond to the complaint, the likely timetable for the response, and the reasons for any delays.
Duties, Obligations and Responsibility of ABRT Members
It is a feature of the work of ABRT Members that complaints may arise because of an incomplete understanding of the professional standards by which they are required to act. In many cases, actions or outcomes that are obvious to ABRT Members may be seen as wrong or unfair by complainants, as ABRT have certain duties, obligations and responsibilities may not be easily misunderstood. When responding to a complaint, an ABRT Member should provide, where appropriate, a clear explanation of their duties, obligations, responsibilities, professional standards and any relevant legislation.
Other Matters to Consider
The matters that an ABRT Member should consider in relation to complaints include:
- The desirability of establishing a formal complaints procedure within the firm, set out in writing, which can be communicated to complainants, colleagues and contractors.
- Whether complaints should be reviewed by an alternate ABRT Member in the firm or escalated to the ABRT Board.
- Early resolution of complaints by telephone conversations and meetings.
- Any other ABER Member’s professional bodies documented procedures for handling complaints.
- Documenting the complaint, filenotes of the response and status in the Client Advisory Record and retaining as part of Record Keeping.
- Where the ABRT Member steps away from an engagement, there should be sufficient information recorded about the complaint such that any successor is adequately briefed.
Professional indemnity insurance
A complaint may, in some circumstances, have to be notified to an ABRT Member’s professional indemnity insurer. In such cases, any action or response by the ABRT Member will necessarily be subject to any conditions imposed by the insurer.
 An ABRT Member’s formally agreed client engagement terms.
 Reference to ‘firm’ includes, as appropriate, a company, a partnership, a sole practitioner, and a practitioner working in association with other ‘firms’ or practitioners in other ‘firms’.
 See ABRT Guidance Material ‘Managing Engagements’.
 See ABRT Guidance Material ‘Client Advisory Record’.
 See ABRT Guidance Material ‘Record Keeping.
 See ABRT Guidance Material ‘Succession Planning’.