Dispute Resolution Procedure
AIPP provides a forum for resolution of disputes between international property buyers and AIPP Business Members (Agents & Developers) through The Property Ombudsman.
Complaints against other AIPP members are dealt with using the AIPP Disciplinary Procedure
- Complainants MUST first try to resolve their dispute directly with the AIPP member via that company’s internal complaints procedure.
- If you cannot resolve your issue directly with the AIPP member then you can escalate your complaint directly with the Ombudsman by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling them on +44 (0) 1722 333306. You should mention in your email / phone call that your complaint is covered by the agreement AIPP has directly with the Ombudsman under a SLA (Service Level Agreement). You can verify this yourself via this link to the SLA page on the Ombudsman website
- You can view the Full Terms of Reference for The Property Ombudsman Scheme via this link
Note to this service
- Members of the public are under no obligation to use the AIPP Dispute Resolution Procedure, it is provided as an optional avenue of redress for clients of AIPP members
- Benefits of doing so include:
- This is a free service to the complainant and the AIPP member (who has paid a fixed amount for it through their AIPP membership), negating the need for possibly expensive legal fees to be incurred
- Should (after intervention by the Ombudsman) satisfaction not be achieved by either party and a legal route is then pursued, a court of law may favour the party with a judgement upheld by the Ombudsman.
- From 1st October 2015 it became a requirement for all product & service providers to give clients the option of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, such as that offered by the Ombudsman. Companies do not have to sign up to an ADR process (unless it is otherwise a legal obligation under other legislation), but they must advise at the outset of a client transaction that they are not signed-up with an ‘Approved’ ADR scheme. Two of the principle reasons for introducing this Europe-wide scheme are to offer improved consumer protection and lower the burden of cost and time for all parties potentially spent in court.
- By way of their AIPP membership, agent and developer members are bound to resolve their disputes by this procedure if the other party so wishes.
- Please note AIPP cannot provide legal advice and all buyers of international property are advised to seek comprehensive independent legal advice prior to making a foreign property purchase
The Property Ombudsman
The Property Ombudsman reviews escalated complaints and decides if an award of compensation should be made to the complainant. Compensation is to a maximum of £25,000 with, anecdotally, 85% of all awards being for £500 or less. The compensation must be paid by the party against whom the complaint has been made, the Ombudsman does not make the payment.
AIPP has worked with The Property Ombudsman in the UK since 2014, giving all AIPP Business Members (Agents & Developers) access to its services. Independent, impartial & fair, the service is free to those making a complaint.
Members, as part of the fee paid to join AIPP, pay to receive this Ombudsman service for the benefit of their clients. Non-AIPP members may not offer this protection to their clients, although they can voluntarily subscribe and pay to use an Ombudsman service.
There is a process to follow in making a successful complaint through the Ombudsman and you should refer to their website for full details. In outline you can make a complaint if:
You have received the agent’s ‘final viewpoint’ letter and you remain unhappy
If eight weeks have passed since you first complained and the issues remain unresolved
Complaints that an AIPP member has not adhered to the Code of Conduct or Rules of AIPP are investigated via the Disciplinary Procedure. This also covers ALL complaints to be made about AIPP Associate Members.
1.1 To investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct, or Rules as set out in the AIPP’s Articles of Association or by the AIPP Board.
1.2 The Disciplinary Procedure is not to be used to investigate alleged inadequate service, to deal with civil disputes between Members or Members and the public or spurious matters arising
1.3 Any matters involving civil disputes shall be referred to the AIPP’s Dispute Resolution Procedure.
2. The Disciplinary Secretary
2.1 The AIPP Board shall, from time to time, appoint a person to act as the Complaints Secretary.
2.2 That person need not be a member of AIPP.
3. The Disciplinary Committee
3.1 The AIPP Board shall elect a pool of AIPP members and lay persons to serve on the Disciplinary Committee. Each member of the committee shall serve for a period of 3 years and may be re-elected.
3.2 The committee shall be divided into 3 parts:
3.3 Legal – there shall be up to six legally qualified persons on the complaints committee.
3.4 Estate agents or developers – there shall be up to ten estate agent or developer members of AIPP on the complaints committee.
3.5 Other members and lay persons – there shall be up to ten persons on the Disciplinary Committee elected either from the members of AIPP who are not estate agents, developers or lawyers, or from outside the international property industry as lay persons.
4. The Disciplinary Panel
4.1 When the need arises to deal with a disciplinary matter the Complaints Secretary shall form a Disciplinary Panel by inviting from the Disciplinary Committee one legally qualified person, one estate agent or developer member, and one person from the ‘other members and lay persons’ pool.
4.2 The role of the Disciplinary Panel will be to assess disciplinary cases brought to the AIPP and exercise disciplinary powers in accordance with this Disciplinary Procedure, and the AIPP’s Rules.
5. Starting the Disciplinary Process
5.1 The disciplinary process shall be started by:
- A referral of an issue by the Board of AIPP.
- A complaint from any other person.
5.2 In cases where the complaint is made by any other person, that person should first seek to use and complete the Member’s own complaints procedure if such a procedure is in place and that person is eligible to access it.
5.3 In either case the complaint should be submitted to the Complaints Secretary using AIPP’s Disciplinary Procedure Complaint Form, to be completed in full and supported by any relevant documented evidence.
5.4 A complaint cannot be considered unless it is submitted in writing and identifies the name and contact information of the complainant.
5.5 Complaints will only be accepted if they fall within the context of the AIPP’s Rules and Code of Conduct.
5.6 If a complaint appears to fall within this context, the Complaints Secretary shall enter the details of the complaint in the Register of Complaints and may take such steps as may be appropriate to clarify the issues raised.
5.7 If there is any ongoing or proposed legal action or other formal dispute resolution related to the complaint investigation, the complaint will be suspended, in most circumstances until this is concluded.
5.8 If there is no reason to suspend investigation of the complaint under 5.7, a copy of the complaint along with any submitted evidence will be sent to the Member concerned, and they will be asked to respond within the context of the AIPP’s Rules and Code of Conduct within 21 days.
6.The Initial Assessment
6.1 A copy of the complaint and the Member’s response will be assessed by an AIPP Disciplinary Panel.
6.2 This assessment will be based on the paperwork submissions only.
6.3 The Disciplinary Panel have the power to reject complaints at this stage if they do not find the complaint to be justified or spurious
6.4 If the Disciplinary Panel find further investigation is required, the case will be referred to a Disciplinary Hearing.
7. Additional Submissions
7.1 If the case is to proceed to a Disciplinary Hearing, a copy of the Member’s response will be sent to the complainant and 21 days will be allowed for the submission of any additional comments and/or evidence. Late submissions will only be accepted by means of a documented late submissions form, and at the AIPP’s discretion.
7.2 If further comments and/or evidence are submitted, a copy will be sent to the Member for their final submissions. No further correspondence will take place with the complainant, unless additional, specific information is required.
8. The Disciplinary Hearing
8. 1 The Complaints Secretary will form a Disciplinary Panel for the hearing. This Panel may or may not be constituted by the same committee members as the initial assessment.
8.2 The Panel will make an assessment of the documentation submitted by both parties.
8.3 The complainant will be provided the opportunity to make verbal testimony to the Disciplinary Panel. Should they wish to be represented by any other person or have legal representation, they should confirm the name of the person representing them 7 days prior to the hearing date.
8.4 The Member will be provided the opportunity to make verbal testimony to the Disciplinary Panel. In the case of Corporate Members, or if the Member wishes to have legal representation, the Member should confirm the name of the person representing them 7 days prior to the hearing date.
8.5 The Disciplinary Panel will decide whether or not the evidence supports the complaint that a breach of AIPP’s Code of Conduct or Rules has occurred.
8.6 If the Disciplinary Panel finds that a breach of the Code of Conduct or Rules of AIPP has occurred the Panel may do any one or more of the following:
- Impose any sanction specifically authorised by the Rules of the AIPP.
- Reprimand the Member concerned.
- Recommend to the Board that the membership of the Member (the subject of the referral or complaint) should be suspended for a specified period, or until certain conditions are met.
- Recommend to the Board that the Member (the subject of the referral or complaint) should be expelled.
- Order the Member (the subject of the referral or complaint) to pay the costs of the Disciplinary Hearing.
9. Conduct of the Disciplinary Panel
9.1 The Disciplinary Panel shall conduct its affairs in a manner consistent with the administration of justice and the principles of fairness.
9.2 The Panel shall attempt to establish the facts, and apply these to the context of the Code of Conduct and Rules of AIPP and, on the basis of the law of England, reach a reasoned conclusion as to whether the referral or complaint is justified.
9.3 Subject to these requirements the Panel may fix its own procedure on a case-by-case basis.
9.4 In considering the level of sanction to be applied, the Disciplinary Panel will take account of relevant factors including, but not limited to, the profit or gain to the Member as a result of the assessed misconduct, the steps taken by the Member to rectify the matter, any actual loss incurred by the complainant, and the relative size of the Member company.
10. Notification of Decisions
10.1 At the conclusion of this Disciplinary Procedure the complainant will be notified in writing that the complaint was dealt with in accordance with this process and was either dismissed, or upheld. If upheld, notification of the sanction(s) applied will be given.
10.2 The decisions of the Disciplinary Panel shall be communicated to the Member and to the Board of AIPP in writing.
10.3 AIPP reserves the right to publish any decision by the Disciplinary Panel to uphold a complaint, and any sanctions applied.
10.4 The Disciplinary Panel will not engage in correspondence with either party, and cases will not be reopened, subject to the provisions of clause 11.
11.1 Any Member removed from the AIPP as a result of disciplinary action may make one appeal in accordance with the AIPP rules governing the appeals procedure at that time.
Amended 25th January 2018.