Unreasonable, persistent and vexatious communication and complaints policy and procedure
Surrey Heath Borough Council aims to provide high quality services to all of our customers. However, when service delivery falls short of this standard, we will deal with those who have a complaint, honestly and impartially, through the Council’s Complaints Procedure.
Dealing with correspondence or a complaint is generally a straightforward process. The general presumption should be that a complaint is made in good faith. In a small number of cases, people pursue their complaints in a way which can either impede the investigation of their complaint or can have significant resource issues for the Council. This can happen either while their communication/complaint is being investigated, or once the Council has finished dealing with the matter.
Definition of unreasonably persistent or vexatious communication or complaints.
The definition of communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using another medium. To successfully convey information or share ideas and feelings. Unreasonable and unreasonably persistent complaints are those complainants who because of the frequency or nature of their contacts with an authority, hinder the authority’s consideration of their or other people’s complaints. A vexatious complaint is one that is pursued, regardless of its merits; solely or primarily to harass, annoy or subdue somebody; something that is unreasonable, without foundation, frivolous, repetitive, burdensome or unwarranted.
If the complainant is persisting because their complaint[s] have not been considered in full then the Council must address this (normally by invoking the next stage of the complaints procedure).
However, if the Council has considered the matter fully and has demonstrated this to the complainant, then we need to consider whether the complainant or correspondence is now unreasonable, persistent, or vexatious.
The decision to declare a complainant vexatious will be taken by the statutory officers of the Council (Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and the Section 151 Officer). Ideally all three will be part of the process, however if necessary only two out of the three can make the decision. This decision will be communicated to the individual by the either the Monitoring Officer or Strategic Director Finance and Customer Services explaining what the declaration of vexatious means and the reasons for them being declared vexatious. Where necessary the Executive and Ward Councillors will be notified.
View the full policy below: