Vexatious and persistent behaviour policy

Examples of Unreasonable or Persistent Behaviour

Features of an unreasonable or persistent complainant include the following (the list is not exhaustive, nor does one single feature on its own necessarily imply that the person will be considered as being in this category).

An unreasonable or persistent complainant may:

  • Refuse to specify the grounds of a complaint despite numerous offers of assistance.
  • Refuse to co-operate with the complaints investigation process while still wishing their complaint to be resolved.
  • Refuse to accept that issues are not within the remit of the complaints policy and procedure despite having been provided with information about the scope of the policy and procedure.
  • Refuse to accept that issues are not within the power of the council to change or influence (examples could be a complaint about a service delivered by another organisation or a decision made based on legislation or policy).
  • Insist on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the complaints procedure or with good practice (insisting, for instance, that there must not be any written record of the complaint).
  • Make what appear to be groundless complaints about the officers dealing with the complaints, and seek to have the officer dismissed or replaced.
  • Make an unreasonable number of contacts with us, by any means in relation to a specific complaint or complaints.
  • Make persistent and unreasonable demands or expectations of officers and/or the complaints process after the unreasonable behaviour has been explained to the complainant (an example of this could be a complainant who insists on immediate responses to numerous, frequent and/or complex letters, faxes, telephone calls or emails).
  • Raise subsidiary or new issues whilst a complaint is being addressed that were not part of the complaint at the start of the complaint process. 
  • Introduce trivial or irrelevant new information whilst the complaint is being investigated and expect this to be taken into account and commented on.
  • Change the substance or basis of the complaint without reasonable justification whilst the complaint is being addressed.
  • Electronically record meetings and conversations without the prior knowledge and consent of a council officer or any other person involved.
  • Adopt an excessively ‘scattergun’ approach, for instance, pursuing a complaint or complaints not only with the council, but at the same time with a Member of Parliament, officers of the council(s), elected Councillors, any of the councils’ independent auditors, the police, solicitors, and the Local Government or Housing Ombudsman.
  • Refuse to accept the outcome of the complaint process after its conclusion, repeatedly arguing the point, complaining about the outcome, and/or denying that an adequate response has been given.
  • Make the same complaint repeatedly, perhaps with minor differences, after the complaints procedure has been concluded, and insist that the minor differences make these 'new' complaints which should be put through the full complaints procedure.
  • Persist in seeking an outcome which we have explained is unrealistic for legal or policy (or other valid) reasons.
  • Refuse to accept documented evidence as factual.
  • Complain about or challenge an issue based on a historic and irreversible decision or incident.
  • Combine some or all of these features.