Independent complaints reviewer

About the reviewer

IPSO's independent complaints reviewer is Sarah Hamilton. She undertakes reviews of handling of investigated complaints to ensure the process has been fair and transparent.

Sarah Hamilton draws on a distinguished background in law and regulation. She was admitted as a Solicitor in 1995 and enjoyed a 20-year career specialising in litigation and acting for public sector bodies and insurance companies. Leaving private practice in 2016, Sarah is now one of England’s three Boundary Commissioners, chairs Fitness to Practise Committees for three healthcare regulators and is Lay Inspector of University Programmes for Dental Schools and Social Work England. She is an Independent Panel Member for the London Assembly and Adjudicator for the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

She has broad experience of overseeing a range of regulatory regimes and is an important guarantor of the integrity of IPSO's processes.


About the review process

Any request for review must be made in writing within 14 days of any decision being issued. IPSO must then decide whether to refer the complaint to the Independent Complaints Reviewer.

The reviewer can only review complaints that have been investigated after raising a possible breach of the Code. They cannot review rejected complaints that either IPSO's staff or Complaints Committee have decided do not raise a possible breach of the Code. The reviewer’s role is to consider whether the process followed by IPSO in investigating and ruling on the complaint was substantially flawed. Examples of issues she would consider are:

  • Did both sides to the complaint have the opportunity to see and comment on all of the evidence considered by the Committee?
  • Did the Committee have access to all of the evidence it needed to make its decision?
  • Did the Committee give full consideration to the arguments of both sides and the evidence supporting them?

She has access to all correspondence relating to the complaint, and is able to ask questions if necessary to inform her review. She then writes to IPSO’s Chairman within 14 days with her decision on whether the process was flawed.

If the Independent Complaints Reviewer finds that the process was not flawed, the decision is then published, so long as there are no other outstanding issues to be resolved.

If the Independent Complaints Reviewer finds that the process was flawed, the complaint returns to the Committee for reconsideration, taking into account the process flaw identified by the Reviewer. The final decision on the complaint is then made by the Committee.