GUIDELINES ON PROCEDURES FOR THE HEARING AND DETERMINATION OF A COMPLAINT
1) All clubs and RGC’s should establish a disciplinary committee to deal with matters of discipline and complaints.
2) All complaints should be in writing. The complaint must be transmitted to the party against whom the complaint has been made (“Respondent”), together with any documentation which accompanied the written complaint.
3) The Respondent shall be invited to respond to the complaint by admitting or denying the complaint as presented and to make any comments or elaboration on his/her response as he/she may wish at that time. The response to the complaint shall be submitted to the committee within fourteen days of receipt by the Respondent of the complaint.
4) The Respondent’s response or any documentation accompanying it shall be copied to the person or body making the complaint (“the Complainant”).
5) The disciplinary committee will set a date for the full hearing of the complaint and shall inform both parties of the time, date and venue of the hearing.
6) If any further communications are received by the disciplinary committee from either the Complainant or the Respondent, copies of such communications shall be furnished to the other party.
7) The hearing of the complaint shall be by way of oral hearing.
8) The Complainant’s case shall be presented first.
9) At the conclusion of the Complainant’s case, the Respondent shall present his/her defence.
10) Either party shall be entitled to present their case personally to the disciplinary committee or in the alternative, to appoint a representative (this may be a legal representative if so desired) to present the parties’ respective cases. In the circumstances of a party appointing a representative, that party’s contribution to the hearing of the complaint shall be limited to direct evidence only. The right to question other witnesses or make submissions shall rest solely with the party’s representative where a representative has been appointed.
11) Each party shall be entitled to call such witnesses as they wish in support of their respective cases.
12) All witnesses who give evidence before the disciplinary committee shall answer, if so required, any questions put to the witness by way of cross-examination by the opposing party or the opposing party’s representative. In addition, any witness who gives evidence shall answer such questions as may be put to the witness by any member of the disciplinary committee following the witness’s direct evidence and cross-examination.
13) If either party intends to rely on documentation in support of their respective cases, then such document will require to be submitted to the disciplinary committee at least seven days in advance of the hearing of the case to facilitate the transmission of the copy document/s to the other party in advance of the hearing.
14) In the circumstances of either the complainant or respondent calling witnesses in support of their relative cases, the identity of the witness and a summary of his/her evidence will require to be submitted to the disciplinary committee at least seven days in advance of the hearing of the case. Following receipt of a summary of the witness evidence, the disciplinary committee will dispatch a copy of the written summary to the opposing party.
15) Any time limits imposed by the disciplinary committee in terms of the processing of a complaint for a full hearing, shall be extended for good reason only and only in exceptional circumstances.
16) Each party is deemed to be on full notice of the contents of these procedures, a copy of which will be posted to the parties.
17) Where either party intends to be legally represented at the meeting which will hear the complaint, the disciplinary committee must be notified of that fact and the identity of the legal advisor not later than seven days prior to the meeting. Where a party opts for legal representation, the other party will be informed of that fact.
18) The disciplinary committee shall communicate its determination of the complaint to both parties as soon as is practicable after it has reached its determination. Each party shall be entitled, following the determination, to exercise a right of appeal and clubs and RGC’s should establish appropriate appeals boards which may not include any person who was a member of the disciplinary committee which heard the complaint.
19) Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and Rules of the club or RGC as the case may be and the principles of natural justice, the disciplinary committee and the appeals board shall be the masters of their own procedures.
GUIDELINES ON PROCEDURES FOR CONDUCTING ARBITRATION IN DISPUTES
All communications leading up to arbitration should be in writing. There should be no exceptions to this.
A letter should be sent to the parties in dispute asking if they are agreeable to engage in arbitration. In the alternative, where the parties have requested arbitration, a letter should be sent noting that fact.
In either case the letter should set out clearly the terms on which arbitration will be conducted.
The letter should state that:
The arbitrator will hear the arguments from both sides, not necessarily at the same time as this may or may not be practical.
Having heard the case presented by both parties to a dispute, the arbitrator will make a decision based on commonsense and fairness to both sides.
Arbitration will be based on the principle that there will be compromise and there will be no winners and no losers.
The decision of the arbitrator will be binding on both parties.
There will be no further appeal.
The parties acknowledge they will have no cause of any legal action following the determination of the arbitrator.
Both parties must agree in advance, in writing, that they are agreeable to entering arbitration accepting these terms fully.
Unless the parties confirm their agreement as per 5 above, arbitration should NOT be attempted.
LAPSED MEMBERS – COURSE OF ACTION
The Garda Commissioner’s Guidelines states at the top of page 22:
“Individuals who have cited membership of, for example, a clay pigeon club or game shooting club as their ‘Good Reason’ for having a firearm certificate must be mindful that if they should allow their membership of the club to lapse for any period during the lifetime of the certificate, that this may constitute grounds for revoking their firearm certificate.”
This in effect means that if someone offers their membership of a gun club as their good reason for acquiring a firearm, they are expected to stay with that club for the duration of the licence period or with a similar club.
Section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 substituted a new Section 4 in the Principal Act (The Firearms Act 1925) including the provision that a Superintendent of An Garda Siochana must satisfy himself that an applicant for a firearms certificate must demonstrate he/she has a good reason for requiring the firearm and membership of a game club can be regarded as establishing good reason. Therefore when a certificate holder ceases to be a member of a club, they no longer have a good reason to possess a firearm.
We are often asked what should be done about people who joined clubs and obtained their firearms certificates on the basis of the club membership but then failed to renew membership from the second year on.
Such people are abusing our clubs and they should be dealt with accordingly. Clubs should make a formal complaint to the relevant Superintendent of the Garda Siochana citing the Commissioner’s Guidelines above and confirming that the relevant party is no longer a club member. It has been said to us that the individuals may be members of other clubs. That may or may not be so. However, a club secretary is responsible only for confirming the person’s membership status of the secretary’s club.
Before notifying the Gardai, the lapsed members should be written to and informed that in the absence of their renewing their membership within a period of not longer than one month, the Gardai will be informed.
Clubs should not have any reservations about taking this course of action. There should be no hesitation in moving to protect clubs from being exploited in this way.
When informing the Gardai, do so in writing and make clear that your letter is a formal complaint.