How we establish a compliance investigation
The IMA is required to monitor the implementation and application of The Agreements in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. This includes keeping under review the adequacy and effectiveness of the exercise by relevant Public Authorities of functions in relation to The Agreements.
Launching statutory inquiries into all reported issues would be an ineffective use of IMA resources and place unnecessary burden on Public Authorities. Accordingly, finding resolution through compliance activity will be more efficient in many instances.
The Compliance and Inquiry Team have responsibility for conducting Compliance Investigations where appropriate. Such investigations typically focus on policies, procedures or actions of Public Authorities or the legislation under which they function, with the aim of finding resolution through investigation and engagement in the first instance.
Investigations may arise from different sources, including but not limited to:
Our process for carrying out a compliance investigation
Compliance investigations provide the IMA with an opportunity to gather further information about an issue to:
- better understand the issue from a citizen’s perspective
- better understand the issue from the perspective of a Public Authority
- inform next steps and potential resolutions or outcomes
During a compliance investigation, information and evidence may be sought from citizens or complainants, including stakeholder groups.
Once a compliance investigation engages with a Public Authority, different tools may be utilised, such as but not limited to, formal requests for information or data and discussions with the Public Authority. Public authorities have a statutory duty to, so far as reasonably practicable, comply with a request by the IMA to cooperate with it in the exercising of the IMA’s functions.
The IMA will explore the issues collaboratively with Public Authorities towards identifying an outcome which supports the effective implementation of effective application of The Agreements and ensure the protection of citizens’ rights. Identifying the most appropriate outcome for the circumstances is the aim of the compliance investigation.
The outcomes of a compliance investigation
No Further Action (NFA)
The IMA may determine it appropriate to take no further action. The IMA will usually publish a statement detailing its rationale for any NFA decision. This will be linked to the IMA Issues Log.
Early Case Resolution (ECR)
As part of the compliance investigation, the IMA will explore the possibility of an ECR where appropriate. This will typically arise where an identified course of action can be agreed between the IMA and the Public Authority such as, but not limited to, a change in legislation, policies, procedures, or guidance. In some instances, that course of action may be achievable and actioned by the Public Authority during the compliance investigation.
The IMA will publish a statement detailing the terms of any ECR. This will be linked to the IMA Issues Log.
Monitoring periods may be necessary following a compliance investigation, but may also arise due to other IMA action, including:
- Where an ECR is agreed but may take time to implement – the IMA will monitor the actions of the Public Authority to ensure actions are delivered and compliance is achieved. The IMA will update any published statement accordingly to include confirmation when any agreed actions are complete.
- When appropriate, the IMA may consider conducting its monitoring via an Assurance Review. This may include where the IMA needs to consider the action of multiple Public Authorities.
- Post litigation monitoring may be required following litigation by the IMA. The IMA may monitor the actions of a Public Authority to ensure that any judgement is implemented The IMA will keep under consideration any requirement for further legal redress.
- Post Inquiry monitoring may be required where Inquiry recommendations are agreed. The IMA will monitor the implementation of the Inquiry recommendations. The IMA may provide information to update the progress.
Where possible, the IMA and a Public Authority will agree a target date by which action under a monitoring period will be achieved.
When the IMA is satisfied that recommendations have been successfully implemented this will be communicated and any published statements relating to the ECR or Inquiry report will be updated to reflect the position.
The IMA will keep under consideration any requirement for further Compliance or Inquiry activity.
During a Compliance Investigation, the IMA may reach a conclusion that merits communicating to citizens, stakeholders, and Public Authorities; this is known as a stated position. This may include, but is not limited to:
- the IMA receives a particular complaint or issue, but finds it compatible with The Agreements,
- the IMA recognises an incompatibility with The Agreements although good reasons exist against the IMA taking a particular course of action.
In such circumstances, the IMA may conclude it necessary to publish a stated position to explain why it has reached such a conclusion. Positions will be linked to the IMA Issues Log.
In exceptional circumstances, where a Public Authority fails to cooperate with the IMA under the exercising of its powers, including delivering actions under a monitoring period, it may be necessary for the IMA to exercise its powers to undertake legal action under paragraph 30 of Schedule 2 to the EUWAA.