Our regulatory scheme is designed to be simple and straightforward. You can download a full copy of the scheme here.
Before accepting a complaint we expect you to try to resolve the matter directly with the publisher. They have 21 days to provide you with a final decision letter in response to your complaint. If after 21 days you have not received a final decision letter or if you remain dissatisfied with the publisher’s response you may then complain to IMPRESS. Where your complaint is unusually complex or where other unforeseen circumstances apply, we may allow publishers slightly more time to deal with your complaint, before it is escalated to us. If the matter is urgent, however, we may allow you to complain to us without going to the publisher first.
We can accept complaints from anyone personally and directly affected by an alleged breach of the Code, from a representative group affected by the alleged breach (where there is a public interest in the consideration of the complaint) or from a third party seeking to ensure the accuracy of published information.
We may refuse to accept a complaint if:
- your complaint does not engage a breach of the Code by a participating publisher, or
- you have already complained about the same issue, or
- your complaint is manifestly without justification, an attempt to argue a point of opinion rather than a Code breach or simply an attempt to lobby.
If your complaint is not accepted, we will tell you and the publisher and explain why.
If your complaint is accepted we will investigate the matter further. We may ask you and the publisher for further information or to attend an oral hearing. Normally, we will share any information you provide with the publisher, and we will share any information the publisher provides with you. Any information or material shared during the course of investigating a complaint will be kept confidential and must not be published by either party involved in a complaint. In exceptional circumstances we may agree not to share a full version of information submitted by one party with another. Our aim throughout is to be fair and transparent. You and the publisher will both have an opportunity to see and respond to a draft adjudication (decision) before it is finalised and published on our website. We may agree to redact personal or sensitive information that you ask us to remove.
We have the power to direct the publisher to make a correction or an apology. We also have the power to award financial sanctions (fines) when a publisher has committed serious or systemic breaches of the Code or our governance requirements. We can award sanctions up to 1% of that publication’s turnover, to a maximum of £1m.
If you believe that you have suffered real harm and you wish to pursue a legal claim for defamation, breach of privacy or harassment against a publisher regulated by IMPRESS, you may ask us to arrange arbitration for you. You can read about arbitration here.
If you are experiencing press intrusion, you may make a request to IMPRESS to issue an Advisory Notice to its publishers to give warning or advice about unwelcome press intrusion. We will also consider requests to issue Advisory Notices to publishers that IMPRESS does not regulate, or to request that other regulators issue Advisory Notices. You can make an Advisory Notice Request here.