Disciplinary and Dispute Resolution Procedure bylaw.
Where disagreements arise between Members, the expectation is that in the vast majority of cases they will be resolved informally. This informal process may involve the Commodore or a Committee Member, or suitable individual (who is a club member) to oversee any arbitration process/meeting.
The following procedure is for the rare occasions when informal resolution is not possible or where the allegation/issue is of such a nature as it requires investigation.
The Club’s disciplinary procedure applies to all Members of the Club and aims to ensure that all Members are treated fairly and consistently in regard to their conduct. This procedure may be reviewed and amended by the Committee from time to time to meet any change in requirements.
2.1 No disciplinary action will be taken against any club member until an investigation has been undertaken by a person/persons, appointed by the Commodore. The investigator will not be a member of any disciplinary panel relating to the matters he or she is investigating.
2.2 Disciplinary matters will be concluded without undue delay and in a timely manner.
2.3 Disciplinary matters will be treated confidentially and only those directly involved in the procedure will be informed.
2.4 Disciplinary matters will normally be heard by three Committee members who are appointed by the Commodore to form a panel. This panel will appoint a chairperson to oversee the process and to have the casting vote. Any appeals panel will also consist of
three four members of the committee, but they can have had no involvement with the original panel. The appeals panel will also be appointed by the Commodore and will also appoint its own chairperson who will have a casting vote..
2.5 A Member who is the subject of a formal complaint/allegation will be advised in writing of the nature of that complaint/allegation against them at least seven days before any investigative interview. This will allow the Member sufficient time to prepare.
2.6 Once the investigation is completed the report will be passed to the Commodore who will decide whether there are sufficient grounds for a disciplinary hearing panel to be convened.
2.7 The Member will be given the opportunity to state their case to the investigating officer and at any subsequent hearing.
2.8 At any disciplinary hearing the Member will have the right to be accompanied (but not represented) by a fellow Member of the club in a support only role. This person cannot be a witness or have had any involvement in the circumstances leading up to the issues being considered by the panel.
2.9 The Member will have the right to appeal against any sanction or penalty imposed, and for that appeal to be heard by an appointed panel of Committee Members not involved in the original disciplinary hearing.
2.10 A proper record will be kept of any disciplinary decision, taking into account the need for confidentiality.
2.11 A complainant will be informed of the result of the disciplinary procedure when the matter is concluded.
2.12 Examples of misconduct offences include but are not limited to the following:
- Failure to comply with Club rules, bylaws, regulations, policies or codes of conduct, including health and safety and safeguarding policies.
- Failure to pay Membership subscriptions, boat fees or other monies owed to the Club within a reasonable time.
- Theft or misappropriation of Club funds.
- Deliberate damage to the property of the Club or a Member.
- Assault on, or deliberate injury to, a Member, guest or employee.
- Foul, abusive or discriminatory language or behaviour or harassment.
- Harming or placing at risk of harm a child or young person aged under 18 or a vulnerable person.
- Conduct or behaviour, whether within or outside the Club, which might bring the club into disrepute by association.
3. Procedure on receipt of a complaint:
3.1 A complaint is received by the Club and passed to the Commodore and acknowledged.
3.2 The Commodore informs the Committee that a complaint has been received and appoints a Committee Member to investigate it, excluding any Member who is related to either the complainant or the Member who is the subject of the complaint, and any Member who has been involved in a previous disciplinary action involving the same Member. If the complaint is against the Commodore, then the/a Vice Commodore or Rear Commodore carries out the actions required of the Commodore in this procedure.
3.3 If the presence at the Club of the Member who is the subject of the complaint may put others at risk, their Membership and/or attendance may be temporarily suspended pending the investigation and the outcome of any subsequent disciplinary hearing. The decision to suspend a Member will lie with the Commodore, however it is envisaged the Commodore will take advice from one or two other senior members of the Committee. It should also be made clear, in writing, that the act of suspending a member is a neutral act and in no way assumes guilt or otherwise.
4.1 The matter is investigated; this may include speaking to the complainant and gathering statements from any witnesses. In the case of failure to make a payment, it may involve checking the club’s financial records.
4.2 If during the course of the investigation, it appears that the Member may have committed a criminal offence, this may be reported to the Police and the internal disciplinary procedure will be put on hold until any Police investigation and subsequent prosecution has been concluded. The decision to report a Member to the police will be taken by the Commodore after having been informed of the severity of the issue by the investigating officer. It is good practice for the Commodore to take advice on whether to report an incident to the police from other senior Members of the Committee.
5.1 If appropriate the Commodore appoints three Committee Members to make up a Disciplinary Hearings Panel, (the Member who conducted the investigation will be asked to present the case on behalf of the club). This panel must be exclusive of any Member who is related to either the complainant or the Member who is the subject of the complaint, and any Member who has been involved in a previous disciplinary action involving the same Member.
5.2 The date, time and venue for the disciplinary hearing are decided by the panel, allowing sufficient time for the Member to prepare their case.
5.3 The Member is informed in writing of the nature of the complaint, is asked to attend the disciplinary hearing, informed of their right to be accompanied and provided with copies of this procedure, any relevant documents and witness statements.
5.4 If the Member is unable, for good reason, to attend on the appointed date, the Disciplinary Panel should endeavour to agree a suitable alternative date with the Member. If the Member is unable to agree a mutually acceptable date within a reasonable period, the hearing may take place in their absence.
5.5 The disciplinary hearing takes place.
5.6 No witnesses or statements should be introduced at the hearing without prior notice, and copies of all written evidence must be produced for consideration by the panel at least seven days prior to the hearing, and must be available in advance to the parties.
5.7 The Disciplinary Panel may adjourn the hearing to allow further evidence to be referred to if the Disciplinary Panel considers it fair to do so.
6. Decision and Sanctions:
6.1 The Disciplinary Panel decides, on a balance of probabilities and taking into account all of the evidence and statements of witnesses, whether misconduct has taken place, and if so decides on an appropriate and proportionate sanction.
6.2 After the Disciplinary Panel has reached a decision, the subject of the complaint will be notified in writing of the decision and informed of any sanctions within 7 days of the decision being reached, sanctions will be effective from the date of the decision. If relevant, the Member should be informed of his/her right of appeal and the timescales involved.
6.3 A confidential record is made of the disciplinary decision. This record is held by the Club Secretary.
6.4 A range of sanctions are available to the panel, these include no further action, a written warning or expulsion from the club and all its activities.
6.5 No further action: if the panel feel that (on a balance of probabilities) the club has failed to prove its case, then the issue is closed and the panel dissolved.
6.6 Written warning: if the panel feel that the case is proven (on a balance of probabilities) they can issue a written warning to the member. This warning must be time-bound and can range from six months to two years depending on the severity of the misconduct. Any proven misconduct of a similar nature during the period for which the sanction is in place could lead to expulsion from the club.
6.7 Expulsion: if the case is proven, and the nature of the offence is deemed serious enough by the panel (on a balance of probabilities), then the member will be excluded from the club on a permanent basis. This would include all future club activities and social events.
7.1 If the Member wishes to appeal then the matter is referred to a further panel of Committee Members who were not involved in the original hearing. The appeal hearing panel may uphold the original decision, reverse it, or reduce the penalty, but may not increase it.
7.2 The decision of the appeals panel is final.
An appeal may be made on the following grounds:
7.3 The Club has failed to follow a fair process; and/or the Member feels that the sanction is disproportionate to the offence
7.4 If an appeal is to be made, then written notice of appeal by way of first-class
recorded delivery post to the Secretary must be given by the Member, within 28 days of being notified of the decision of the Disciplinary panel.
7.5 No appeal will be valid or considered after that time period has elapsed.
7.6 The Member must give full written grounds for the appeal, stating exactly what is being appealed against and the reasons for this.
7.7 An appeal hearing will be convened as soon as practicable and will consist of an Appeals Panel which will normally consist of three Committee Members, appointed by the Commodore, who did not take part in the first hearing and who will elect their own chairperson (who will have the casting vote).
7.8 New evidence cannot be presented at the appeal hearing. The Appeals Panel will hear evidence from the original Disciplinary Panel consisting of the process by which they reached their conclusion and the reasons for any sanction they will have imposed.
7.9 The Member will have the opportunity to state their grounds for appeal to the appeals panel at the appeals hearing
The decision of the Appeal Committee is final and binding on the parties.
Bylaw adopted March 2023 AGM