Complaints

Many Immigration Advisers are providing sound immigration advice, but it is also a fact of life that a significant number of complaints are made to the Immigration Advisers Authority ('IAA'). These can lead to investigations by the Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal ('Disciplinary Tribunal'). 

We can help immigration advisers by:

  • preparing the best possible written response when a complaint is made to the IAA;
  • putting forward all necessary and relevant evidence for consideration before the IAA; 
  • representing you before the Disciplinary Tribunal;
  • reviewing your policies and procedures to make sure they meet the requirements under the Licensed Advisers' Code of Conduct;
  • giving advice on improvements to your policies or processes to avoid future complaints.

Businesses live or die by their reputation

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We all know businesses live or die by their reputation. Receiving a complaint from a client can be very confronting and stressful. How you handle a complaint can have significant implications on your reputation and that of your business. We are committed to providing you with clear, accurate advice as part of a professional, good value service. 

We offer fixed-fee options for our legal service for complaints, so you know you’ve got all the support you need should you get into hot water. We would agree on the fee after we carry out an initial review of the complaint.

For all complaints the Registrar of the IAA makes a preliminary decision on whether there is a potential breach of the Licensed Advisers Code of Conduct and whether the claim should be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal. As part of this process the Registrar also considers whether the complaint could best be settled through the immigration adviser’s own complaint procedure. A well placed submission to the Registrar may be able to nip the complaint in the bud.

If a complaint is heard and upheld by the Disciplinary Tribunal, the consequences can be serious. The Disciplinary Tribunal can decide to:

  • fine an immigration adviser up to $10,000;
  • direct an immigration adviser to refund, in full or part, client’s fees or any expenses;
  • cancel or suspend an immigration adviser’s licence.

The Disciplinary Tribunal has shown that it is quite prepared to cancel licences where there has been serious breach of the Code of Conduct. The Tribunal has also on a number of occasions emphasised to immigration advisers the benefits of taking legal advice when faced with a complaint.

Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal

Complaints are referred by the IAA to the Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal.

How does the Disciplinary Tribunal process work?

1. If you are aware that a complaint has been lodged against you, contact us immediately to ensure you start on the front foot. We may be able to nip the complaint in the bud.
2. The Registrar of the Authority considers the complaint and may ask for clarification from you. We can assist with the response to the Registrar.
3. If the Registrar accepts the complaint as showing a potential breach of the Licensed Advisers Code of Conduct, they can refer the matter to the Tribunal for consideration. We can represent you before the Tribunal.
4. The Tribunal will ask for written submission. An appearance in person before the Tribunal is not required. We can prepare and file written submissions on your behalf.
5. If the Tribunal then decides that the complaint is upheld they will ask for written submissions on what sanction should be imposed. We can prepare and file written submissions on your behalf.
6. If the Tribunal decides that the breach is so serious that it may warrant cancellation of your license, you would be invited to appear in person. It’s very important that you have a lawyer present at this stage if you want to keep your license and your livelihood. We can appear before the Tribunal for you, presenting the best possible defence.
 
 

Marty Logan

Position: Partner
Email: marty.logan@pittandmoore.co.nz
DDI: +64 3 545 6719