What is and what is not a complaint?

Examples of complaints

A complaint might be:

  • An allegation about the conduct of a minister, deacon or office bearer or about the way in which they have performed their duties
  • An expression of dissatisfaction about the way in which you have been treated by a minister, deacon or office bearer or about their attitude to you
  • An allegation that a minister, deacon or office bearer has failed to do something in the way that should reasonably be expected
  • An allegation that there has been unreasonable delay by a minister, deacon or office bearer in responding to an enquiry or request
  • A breach of confidentiality by a minister, deacon or office bearer

What is not a complaint?

A complaint is not:

  • a routine request for information or for an explanation of the way in which something is done. In the first instance, such an enquiry should be referred to your local Church officers. However, the Presbytery Clerk is a person who you can contact should you simply wish an explanation of the way in which the Church normally does something
  • an allegation which is not about a person, ie it is about a court, Council or Committee of the Church. Such allegations will be dealt with under different Church procedures

What doesn't the Church's Complaints Procedure deal with?

The Church's Complaints Procedure is generally for allegations made against individual persons within the Church. Some things which the Church's Complaints Procedure doesn't cover are:

  • An issue about selection or training of a minister: this goes to the Ministries Appeal Panel
  • An issue about Presbytery planning (this is the Church's process for determining the extent and nature of congregations within the Church): this goes to the Appeals Committee of the Commission of Assembly
  • An issue about insurance, sale or purchase of property: this would be dealt with by the Secretary of the General Trustees or his staff
  • An issue about buildings maintenance: this would be dealt with by the appropriate local congregational body or Committee
  • Insurance claims: these go to the insurance company
  • An issue which involves a Church person but not a minister, deacon or office bearer etc: this will be referred straight to the local Kirk Session to be dealt with
  • An attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where a final outcome has already been reached
  • An issue which involves vulnerable people: this will go straight to Safeguarding procedures

Also, while you can complain about a matter which is already being dealt within the civil or criminal courts (such as the Sheriff Court, High Court of Justiciary, Court of Session or an employment tribunal), such a matter will not normally be dealt with by the Church until the civil or criminal process has been concluded.

Where the complaint should be dealt with under a different process, as mentioned above, the Presbytery Clerk will be able to supply you with the appropriate information about who to contact.

Further information can be found on the complaints page. You can access information about making a complaint on the making a complaint page.

Text and information adapted from The Church of Scotland.