Abusive, Persistent or Vexatious Complaints Policy

This policy applies to all Wessex Searches customers, including members of the public, third parties and businesses.

Dealing with a complaint is a straightforward process but in a minority of cases people pursue their complaints in a way which can either impede the investigation of their complaint or have significant resource issues.

Wessex Searches are committed to handling all complaints in a Personal, Professional and Proactive manner and within agreed timescales.

We will not normally limit the contact which complainants have with Wessex Searches employees.

We do not expect Wessex Searches employees to tolerate unacceptable behaviour by complainants or any customer. Unacceptable behaviour can include (but is not limited to)

  • Rudeness (for example, swearing, persistent interruption, name calling or general discourtesy)
  • Anger (for example, shouting)
  • Using abusive or foul language on the telephone, face to face, by letter, email, text, etc
  • Any form of intimidating or threatening behaviour
  • Repeated telephone calls
  • Insisting on speaking to a particular member of the team
  • Leaving multiple voicemails
  • Sending repetitive and/or irrelevant emails or letters
  • Reiterating the same points in communications, despite points being previously addressed

We will take action to protect Wessex Searches employees from such behaviour. If a complainant acts in a way that is unreasonably persistent or vexatious, we will follow this policy.

Raising legitimate queries or criticisms of a complaints procedure as it progresses, for example if agreed timescales are not met, should not in itself lead to the complaint being regarded as vexatious.

To contribute to our overall aim of dealing with all complaints in ways which are consistent, fair and reasonable.

To set out how we will decide which complaints will be treated as vexatious or unreasonably persistent, and what we will do in those circumstances. The policy is for the information of Wessex Searches employees and customers.


Features of an unreasonably persistent and/or vexatious complaint include the following (the list is not exhaustive)

  • There are insufficient or no grounds for the complaint and it is made only to annoy (or for reasons that the complainant does not admit or make obvious)
  • There are no specified grounds for the complaint
  • The complainant refuses to cooperate with the complaints investigation process while still wishing their complaint to be resolved
  • The complaint is about issues not within the power of Wessex Searches to investigate, change or influence and where the complainant refuses to accept this
  • The complainant insists on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the complaints procedure or with good practice
  • There appears to be groundless complaints about Wessex Searches employees dealing with the complaints, and an attempt to have them dismissed or replaced
  • There is an unreasonable number of contacts with Wessex Searches, by any means, in relation to a specific complaint or complaints
  • There are persistent and unreasonable demands or expectations of employees and/or the complaints process after the unreasonableness has been explained to the complainant (an example could be a complainant who expects immediate responses)
  • Attempts to harass, verbally abuse or otherwise seek to intimidate the employee dealing with their complaint by use of foul or inappropriate language or by the use of offensive or discriminatory language
  • Trivial or irrelevant new information is introduced whilst the complaint is being investigated and an expectation that this is to be considered and commented on
  • The complainant denies statements he or she made at an earlier stage in the complaint process
  • The complainant electronically records meetings and conversations without the prior knowledge and consent of others involved
  • The same complaint is made repeatedly, perhaps with minor differences after the complaints procedure has been concluded and the complainant insists the minor differences make this a ‘new’ complaint

Imposing limitations

In the rare cases where unacceptable behaviour occurs, Wessex Searches will tell the complainant why they believe that is the case and ask them to change their behaviours.

If the unacceptable behaviour continues Wessex Searches may take action to limit the complainants contact with Wessex Searches and inform the person of that limitation and the reason for it.

Any limitations imposed will be appropriate and proportionate. The options Wessex Searches are likely to consider are:

  • Banning the complainant from making contact by telephone except through a third party e.g., solicitor
  • Restricting telephone calls to specified days/times/duration
  • Requesting contact in a particular form (for example letters only)
  • Letting the complainant know that Wessex Searches will not reply to or acknowledge any further contact from them on the specified topic of that complaint

When the decision has been taken to apply this policy Wessex Searches will contact the complainant in writing to explain:

  • Why they have taken this decision
  • What action Wessex Searches is taking
  • The duration of that action

If the complainant continues to behave in a way which is unacceptable, the Searches Manager may decide to terminate contact with that person and stop any investigation into their complaint.

Where the behaviour is so extreme, or it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of employees, Wessex Searches will consider other options, for example reporting the matter to the police or taking legal action. In such cases prior warning of that action may not be given.

Record keeping

Adequate records will be retained by Wessex Searches with the details of the case and the action that has been taken. This will include:

  • The name and address of each customer who is abusive, vexatious or persistent
  • When the restriction comes in to force and ends
  • What the restrictions are
  • When the customer and departments were advised

The complainant will be advised in the communication of the intention to keep the information as per GDPR Regulations.