Complaints about members’ conduct may be raised by Club Members, Event Officials and Committee Members, who are perpetually vigilant of member behaviour.Complaints are preferably made in writing, but they may be reported verbally to Committee Members, who will prepare a statement which will be presented to the Committee.Complaints must be raised within a maximum of a month of the incident and preferably sooner.
Members may also complain about the behaviour of Event Officials or Committee Members.However, they should be mindful that most Directors’ rulings may be appealed to the Event Appeals Committee.This must be the members’ recourse, rather than dispute with the Director, in accordance with Law 90 – “Players must comply promptly with instructions of the Director”.
All disputes or complaints must be referred to the Club Committee or the Event Appeal Committee before escalation to the County or EBU Appeals Committees.The Club Committee will be convened promptly to deal with all member complaints.The Laws of Bridge require the Event Director to convene an Event Appeal Committee before closing the event.
When handling member complaints, Committee Members who are personally involved will be excluded by the Chairman from participating in the matter.With complaints arising in bridge play, the Club’s Tournament Organiser or (if absent or involved), another Tournament Director from the Committee, or a co-opted one if necessary, must be present to advise the Committee on matters of Bridge Law.Co-opted Directors will not become voting members of the disciplinary body.
The Committee will collect statements from all involved including the author and subject of the complaint, together with any witnesses.All Committee Members will decline to discuss with members any matters relating to member complaints, both during and after the complaint procedure, other than to collect evidence.Members of the Club are required by the Committee to refrain from promoting their complaints with other members of the Club whilst the complaints procedure is in process, either in the Club or the County or EBU disciplinary bodies.
Having heard the evidence, the Committee will resolve on its findings. If the complaint is substantiated for lesser offences the Chairman, accompanied by another Committee Member, will give the member a verbal warning regarding their future conduct. If the offence is serious enough, the Committee may exclude the member from club meetings with immediate effect, for a variable period or permanently.
If the same member is the subject of a further substantiated complaint he/she will be given a written warning that a further offence will result in exclusion from the Club.Subsequently, substantiated offences by the member will then result in automatic exclusion from the Club, for a period to be decided by the Committee.
All member complaints substantiated or not will be formally recorded in the Minutes of the Committee Meetings.However, they will normally be excluded from the version published to members.Also in all cases both the complainers and the person complained of will be informed of the Committee’s findings.
Members who are unsatisfied with the handling of complaints by the Club under this procedure may appeal their complaint to the Disciplinary Committees of the NCBA and the EBU.These bodies are empowered to act within the Bye Laws of English Bridge, available on the EBU Website. This document focuses on the EBU’s powers to intervene with infringements of Laws and regulations in play, but they also give the EBU general powers to rule on “misconduct which falls below the accepted standards required of player members”.
Even when a complaint is escalated, the Committee remains at all times entirely responsible for the standing of members in the Club and there is no appeal against the Club’s decision.