Making a complaint


We take complaints very seriously at Bonsucro, and each one will be judged individually. There are some common areas that most complaints fall into:

  • Someone from Bonsucro has broken the Bonsucro Code of Conduct.
  • Someone has been awarded Bonsucro Certification when they should not.
  • You have a grievance with an auditor, the way an audit was carried out, or the guidelines that were followed to complete the audit.
  • You disagree with a decision made by a Bonsucro member of staff or board member.

Our Principles for Handling Complaints

We will always:

  • Do our best to resolve complaints quickly
  • Encourage all parties to resolve complaints between themselves first
  • Gather the relevant facts from all parties
  • Operate as openly as possible, without compromising sensitive information
  • Maintain a formal record of complaints
  • Provide an appeals process
  • Make sure everyone involved remains satisfied once the complaint is resolved

Filing a Complaint

We only consider written complaints. Please use the following address:

The Wenlock
50-52 Wharf Road
London, N1 7EU, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 3735 8515

or contact us here.

The complaint or grievance must be in English, as it’s our official language. We reserve the right to dismiss complaints or evidence in other languages.

The initial burden of proof is on the party who makes the complaint. They must provide the information below:

  • Personal information, including:
    • Organisation, contact person, and title/position
  • Information that demonstrates legitimacy of organisation
  • Contact information, including email, phone number, and mailing address
  • Name of individual or organisation grievance is made against
  • Details on nature of grievance (i.e. which article (a-d, above) is being broken?)
  • Documentation and other supporting evidence to substantiate the complaint, including a concise narrative with clear links to supporting evidence
  • Evidence that they’ve taken steps to resolve the grievance directly with the organisation
  • Recommendations on how they’d like to see the complaint resolved.

Processing Procedure

The Complaint Manager will make an initial assessment of the claim. There are some things we won’t consider, like:

  • Actions that occurred before the member joined Bonsucro
  • Allegations against non-members, excluding auditors and certification bodies
  • Allegations unrelated to Bonsucro business
  • Allegations that occurred outside the available timeframe for filing complaints (see Table 1)

Table 1: Complaint Validation Guide

Type of Complaint Possible subject(s) of complaint Available timeframe for filing complaints
Code of Conduct Member organisation Duration of membership
Bonsucro Certification System (incl. production standard, chain of custody standard, etc) Certified member mill (Production Standard) and certified organisation (Chain of Custody Standard) Duration of certificate validity
Audits, auditors, the auditing process, Auditing Guidelines Certification body, Accreditation body Within six months of audit or action in question
Actions or decisions of the Bonsucro Board of Directors, committee members or staff Staff members, Individual member of the Board of Directors, committee members Within six months of action or decision in question

If the Complaint Manager considers a complaint to be out of scope, it will be dismissed. If this happens, you’ll be notified within 10 days, along with their reasoning.

If the complaint is within scope but lacks required information, you’ll be notified within 10 days, and you’ll be given a copy of this document to outline the information you need to provide. You’ll then have 30 days to provide additional evidence.

If the complaint is within scope and has enough information, we’ll also let you know within 10 days. At this stage, we go to Step 5.

If 4 occurs, the Complaint Manager will notify the person that the claim is against, and will ask for an initial response. After 30 days, the available evidence will be considered final and the Complaints Manager will proceed with the complaints process. If there’s no response, the Complaint Manager will assume the complaint is well-founded and proceed with recommendations.

Once all evidence has been considered, the Complaint Manager will submit a report to the Chief Executive of Bonsucro with recommendations.

Bonsucro’s Chief Executive will propose and communicate a decision to the Board. The Board will then either authorise this decision or provide guidance to amend it. Both parties will be notified of the decision and will be provided with the opportunity to either accept the decision or submit a counter proposal.

If a counter proposal is submitted, it must be provided to the Complaints Manager in writing within 10 business days of receiving the Board’s decision. Both parties will be notified of the Counter Proposal, within 10 business days. Each party will then have 10 business days to either accept or reject the terms of the counter proposal.

If there’s a lack of agreement, the Board of Directors can choose to:

  • (a) uphold the original,
  • (b) accept one of the Counter Proposals,
  • (c) amend the original decision, incorporating parts of the Counter Proposal.

We’ll let both parties know the decision, including any corrective measures that need to be taken by the person the claim is against. Bonsucro will monitor progress on this front, and both parties will receive a copy of the appeals process.

If there’s an agreement, we’ll let both parties know, including any corrective measures that need to be taken by the person the claim is against. Bonsucro will monitor progress on this front, and both parties will receive a copy of the appeals process.

Decisions reached through the Bonsucro Complaint Resolution Process are valid for a period of 4 (four) years, starting from the date of notification of the parties, unless otherwise stated in the decision.

Appeals procedure

An appeal may be made by either party.

If there’s an appeal to be made, it must happen within 21 days of the Board’s resolution decision. The appeal must be in writing and clearly set out grounds for the appeal.

Appeals must be made using evidence that was used during the original complaint, unless it was unavailable at that time.

If that evidence wasn’t available, the appealing party must put forward a case as to why it should now be considered.

The appeal will be heard by a panel comprised of the Bonsucro Chair of Directors, and three other Bonsucro member representatives. The members of the panel will be appointed by the Bonsucro board, and will cover a number of member categories. The member representatives act independently, and will sign a non-disclosure agreement. The panel shall hear the appeal within 36 days of the notice to appeal.
The panel will receive a copy of the original complaint and any evidence provided by either party during the initial appeal process.

If there’s a conflict of interest, a person won’t be appointed to the panel.
An employee or legal representative can represent either party, but only if there’s 5 days written notice to Bonsucro.

The panel will then decide whether to uphold or revise the original decision, and inform both parties of the decision – including any action to be taken. This decision is final, and there will be no further opportunities to appeal.

Any complaint against a staff member, a director or a committee member will be referred to the appeals panel immediately, and handled directly by the Complaints Manager.

The panel shall start the procedure, with the provision that it will take over all duties of any member of staff, Board or director.

There will be no appeal to the decision of the panel.


We’ll publish any final complaints results on our website. If the wording of the publication isn’t agreed by the parties involved, the Board of Directors will determine the final wording instead.

Staff will maintain a log of all complaints made to Bonsucro. Any original documentation submitted by the parties shall be returned to those parties as soon as possible and copies shall be stored at Bonsucro’s offices for 12 months beginning on the date on which the complaint was determined. They’ll be destroyed afterwards.