The figure below briefly illustrates the procedure for handling complaints.
The Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution endeavours to establish a framework for mediation, dialogue and conflict resolution. This is evident in the initial phase when the parties are encouraged to resolve the matter themselves and also plays an important role when the Institution offers to mediate between the parties. The starting point is therefore that the parties should work together to resolve a specific complaint. The Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution only releases a statement if the parties are unable to resolve the conflict independently or through mediation facilitated by the Institution. There may also be cases where the infringement is considered to be of such a serious nature that the Institution does not offer to mediate.
When the Institution receives a complaint, the complaint is assessed to determine, in particular, whether it complies with formal requirements: the complaint cannot be anonymous, and it must be accompanied by a description of what has happened and corresponding documentation, including the respondent company’s role in the infringement. The Institution evaluates whether the complaint falls within the scope of the Guidelines. On the basis of the initial assessment, the Institution will either reject the complaint or accept it for further consideration.
When a complaint is approved for further consideration, the Institution encourages the parties (petitioner and respondent) to resolve the matter themselves. This serves to create the basis for a dialogue between the parties. If the parties succeed in resolving the matter on their own, the Institution has no further involvement. The parties must simply notify the Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution within three months from submission of the complaint to indicate whether they have found a solution. Matters resolved between the parties are not subject to any form of publication by the Institution.
If the parties fail to resolve the matter themselves, the Institution investigates the matter further. This is called the preliminary investigation. The initial requirements to the complaint still apply but the Institution considers the matter in the light of any new information that may have become available in connection with the parties’ attempt at resolving the matter themselves. New information may have become available, and the Institution takes on a more active role. The Institution decides whether to consider the matter further and perhaps offer to mediate between the parties. The Institution publishes its decision on its website.
The Institution offers mediation if the parties fail to resolve the matter themselves and the detailed investigation shows that there are reasons to consider the matter further. Mediation is voluntary and merely an offer made by the Institution. If the parties accept the offer for mediation, the Institution helps create a constructive and meaningful dialogue between the parties. If a solution is reached through mediation, the Institution publishes the result of the mediation. The Institution follows up a year later to see whether the parties have complied with the mediation agreement.
The Institution carries out an actual investigation if mediation fails to resolve the matter or if the parties reject the offer for mediation. The Institution may also consider some cases unsuitable for mediation, for example when gross infringements are involved. On the basis of the investigation, the Institution publishes a statement that may clear the responding party or contain criticism of its conduct. In its statement, the Institution provides recommendations for what the company should do to improve the situation.