Complaints & Appeals
PEFC is aware that, as with any programme or activity, there may be issues of non-conformity or non-compliance from time to time.
PEFC has put in place a series of complaints and appeals mechanisms to respond to such situations, over and above these issues being dealt with during the regular certification and surveillance audits.
We encourage stakeholders to forward information on any suspected activities to the respective complaints and appeals mechanism. In addition to correcting any such issues, complaints and appeals also provide an opportunity to implement corrective and preventive measures and to improve PEFC services. Crucially, they provide a mechanism for ensuring accountability.
Complaints and Appeals against Decisions or Activities by PEFC International or any of its Members
Any stakeholder can lodge a complaint or appeal against PEFC International or a national PEFC member about its compliance with PEFC International's requirements.
For ease of effectiveness, complaints or appeals concerning national PEFC members should be dealt with at national level. To this end, PEFC requires endorsed national systems to have their own complaints and appeals procedures.
The following basic steps should be followed if an issue cannot be resolved at national level, or for complaints or appeals against PEFC International:
- Complainants outline their concerns in a letter to PEFC accompanied by supporting documentation. The information provided must be verifiable as accurate and correct to allow adequate follow-up.
- Where a complaint is accepted as justified, PEFC assigns a Task Force to deal with the complaint or appeal. Members of the Task Force must not have a vested interest in or conflict of interest with the subject matter.
- The Task Force investigates the matter and proposes a solution. Such investigations should take no longer than one month unless on-site investigation is required.
- PEFC’s Board of Directors makes a decision on the complaint or appeal, based on a written report by the Task Force.
Complaints against national PEFC members, if upheld, can have serious consequences, including the suspension or termination of PEFC endorsement.
Complaints or Appeals against Certified Entities, their Respective Certification or Accreditation Bodies
PEFC, along with other key compliance organizations like ISO and IAF, firmly believes that the independence and complete separation of the processes of standard setting, certification and accreditation is of utmost importance to the long-term credibility of any certification system.
Consequently, PEFC does not issue certificates itself, but has implemented internationally recognized certification and accreditation procedures to ensure the utmost credibility of the certification process.
Complaints against certified entities must therefore be dealt with by the respective complaints and appeals procedures put in place by certification bodies. Issues that remain unresolved at this level should be raised with the respective complaints and appeals mechanisms of accreditation bodies and thereafter with the IAF.
Complaints and Appeals Against the Forum for Standard Setting at National Level
The Forum for Standard Setting at national level is responsible for defining its own documented standard-setting procedures tailored to the national context. A complaints and appeals mechanism must be designed at this stage to enable the impartial resolution of any issues that may arise.
Standard Setting (PEFC ST 1001:2010)
Describes the requirements for standardising bodies in the development and revision of forest management and scheme-specific chain of custody standards. It is based on ISO/IEC Guide 59.
Administration of PEFC Scheme (PEFC GD 1004:2009)
Covers requirements for the administration of the PEFC scheme including PEFC notification of certification bodies; PEFC Logo usage licensing; operation of the PEFC Registration System; complaint and dispute procedures.
PEFC Council Procedures for the Investigation and Resolution of Complaints and Appeals (GL 7/2007)
Describes the responsibilities and actions of PEFC Council and PEFC National Governing Bodies for the investigation and resolution of complaints and appeals.
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Non-compliances with certification requirements are a serious matter. Report any complaints to the respective certification body.