GSDL WDG Complaints & Disciplinary Procedure

This document refers to Section 13.2 of the Constitution of the GSDL Working Dog Group and is a procedural appendix thereto.

The Complaint & Disciplinary Panel is to be made up of a permanent 4 person panel (unless directly involved in a complaint or due to conflict of interest), sourced from any Branch Club, (preferably Branch Club officers.) and 2 GSDL Working Dog Group officers, (the Chairman and the Secretary preferable unless directly involved in a complaint or due to conflict of interest).

All minutes to be taken by the GSDL Working Dog Group Secretary (or the national officer appointed as secretary for the complaint) and agreed by the panel.

The 2 officers will not be voting members of the panel. Exceptions to this rule are:

  1. In the case of a split decision the Chairperson has the deciding vote.
  2. Should a member of the panel be required to withdraw due to being directly involved in a complaint or due to conflict of interest the GSDL Working Dog Group Secretary (or the national officer appointed as secretary for the complaint) would become a voting member. Where more than one panel member is required to withdraw then an extra person/persons can be co-opted onto the panel by the GSDL Working Dog Group Chairman
  3. All members of the panel are required to withdraw from the panel if there is a conflict of interest Failure to disclose any conflict or any direct involvement in any complaint will be a disciplinary offence punishable by a mandatory six-month suspension from the , GSDL Working Dog Group, including club-training rights

The Complaint

The complaint must be given to the trial organiser/club committee at the time of the incident (in person) and in writing to the GSDL Working Dog Group within 7 days of the incident.

The written complaint must be accompanied with a £50.00 fee, refundable if the complaint is upheld. Where a complainant wishes to remain anonymous, no disciplinary action can be taken to protect members from spurious complaints.

There are two routes the panel can take, informal or formal.

Wherever possible the informal route should be considered as the first course of action.

When faced with a potential disciplinary matter, the panel must carry out a full investigation before taking any action.

They must consider:

  • What the alleged breach of discipline is
  • The surrounding circumstances
  • The consequences of the breach
  • The person’s history and disciplinary record
  • The evidence of witnesses
  • Any other evidence that can shed light on the situation
  • Any previous incidents that relate to this one
  • Any mitigating circumstances eg health or domestic problems, or provocation.

Once the panel has taken these factors into account, review the evidence to determine whether:

  • There is a case to answer
  • There is an alternative to disciplinary action – eg, an informal resolution
  • The complaint is serious enough to require a disciplinary hearing

It may be better to deal with minor cases of misconduct by informal discussions, rather than through the disciplinary procedure.

If this route is taken all conversations with persons accused of any minor misconduct must be confirmed by letter, detailing the complaint and the fact that they are accepting an informal warning, a copy must be signed by the national secretary(or the national officer appointed as secretary for the complaint) and any person concerned.

If the situation justifies informal discussions:

  • highlight the problem to the person
  • explain what needs to be done to improve conduct or behaviour
  • outline how future conduct or behaviour will be reviewed and over what period.
  • outline what further action may occur if the person fails to improve their conduct or performance.

Any person accused of a minor infringement of GSDL Working Dog Group rules has the right not to accept an informal warning and ask for a formal hearing.

For certain serious offences the panel may need to suspend a person whilst a full investigation takes place.

The panel must prepare carefully for a disciplinary hearing:

  • Carry out a full investigation
  • Make sure you have all relevant facts and documents (including details of any past disciplinary action taken against the person including informal warnings) are available for the hearing.
  • Arrange a suitable time, date and venue for the hearing.
  • Inform the person in plenty of time so they can prepare their case and consult any representatives (minimum two weeks).
  • Give them details of the complaint the, procedure to be followed the need for them to attend disciplinary hearing, their right to be accompanied at the hearing by a representative or friend, their right to delay the hearing by up to seven days if their chosen representative cannot attend, and the text of any witness statements if heavy reliance is to be placed on them.
  • Inform any witnesses who may need to attend.
  • Obtain witness statements from any witnesses unable to attend the hearing.
  • Where necessary delay the hearing for witnesses to be available.
  • In cases where a person may be expelled or suspended from the GSDL Working Dog Group, all persons involved eg complainants/witnesses and accused are required to attend. (Where the accused person is thought to be deliberately delaying a hearing the hearing can be held without them providing they have been informed via registered / hand delivered letter that the hearing will go forward without them present.
  • Extensive note of any hearing must be taken

When holding a disciplinary hearing;

  • Introduce everyone present and explain why they are there
  • explain that the reason for the hearing is to consider whether disciplinary action Should be taken against the person
  • explain how the hearing will be conducted
  • describe the exact nature of the complaint and go through the evidence
  • allow the person to see any statements made by witnesses if they have not already seen them
  • give the person a chance to state their case and to respond to any allegations made
  • ensure that you get all the facts relating to the complaint and take note of any special circumstances
  • summarise the main points made by both parties and highlight any issues that need to be investigated further
  • adjourn to consider your decision
  • reconvene to let the person know of your decision and ensure that they are clear about what is likely to happen next

Following a disciplinary hearing, the panel should inform the person as soon as possible in writing of:

  • The result of the hearing
  • The reasoning behind the decision
  • The consequences of repeating the offence and what specific improvement is required, if any
  • How long the warning is going to remain in force
  • The likely consequences of repetition of the misconduct

Some reasons why there should be a hearing;

  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Health and safety
  • bullying
  • Drunkenness or drug abuse
  • fighting
  • Theft
  • Animal abuse
  • Animal cruelty
  • Damage to property

Mileage expenses are to be paid to all panel members and to witnesses, where required to attend.

Mileage expenses are to be paid to any person accused of an offence and required to attend such a hearing where that person is found to be innocent of an offence.

The Kennel Club shall be the final Court of Appeal in all matters of dispute between the GSDL Working Dog Group and its Members the GSDL Working Dog Group’s affairs and management, no matter in what manner arising. On a point of law legal opinion may be sought.

Any member who shall be suspended under The Kennel Club Rule A24j (4) and/or disqualified under The Kennel Club Rule A42j (8) shall ipso facto cease to be a member of the Society for the duration of suspension and/or disqualification. If the conduct of any member shall, in the opinion of the committee of the society, be injurious or likely to be injurious to the character or interests of the society, the committee of the society may, at a meeting, the notice convening which includes as an object the consideration of the conduct of the member, determine that a Special General Meeting of the Society shall be called for the purpose of passing a resolution to expel him. Notice of the Special General Meeting shall be sent to the accused member, giving particulars of the complaint and advising him/her of the place, date and hour of the meeting that he may attend and offer an explanation. If at that meeting a resolution to expel is passed by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, his name shall be forthwith erased from the list of members, and he shall thereupon cease for all purposes to be a member of the society, except that he may within two calendar months from the date of such meeting appeal to the Kennel Club upon and subject to such conditions as The Kennel Club may impose”
If a Member is expelled for discreditable conduct in connection with dogs, dog shows or trials, the matter must be reported to The Kennel Club within seven days and particulars supplied as required.

The German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain Working Dog Group (GSDL)

Any publication, in whole or part, of the contents of this document without the expressed written permission of the GSDL Working Dog Group National Council is prohibited