PART VII: Disputes
Article 59 – Complaints procedure1
1. Staff members may submit to the Secretary General a request inviting him or her to take a decision or measure which s/he is required to take relating to them. If the Secretary General has not replied within sixty days to the staff member's request, such silence shall be deemed an implicit decision rejecting the request. The request must be made in writing and lodged via the Director of Human Resources. The sixty-day period shall run from the date of receipt of the request by the Secretariat, which shall acknowledge receipt thereof.
2. Staff members who have a direct and existing interest in so doing may submit to the Secretary General a complaint against an administrative act adversely affecting them, other than a matter relating to an external recruitment procedure. The expression “administrative act” shall mean any individual or general decision or measure taken by the Secretary General or any official acting by delegation from the Secretary General.
3. The complaint must be made in writing and lodged via the Director of Human Resources:
a. within thirty days from the date of publication of the act concerned, in the case of a general measure; or
b. within thirty days of the date of notification of the act to the person concerned, in the case of an individual measure; or
c. if the act has been neither published nor notified, within thirty days from the date on which the complainant learned thereof; or
d. within thirty days from the date of the implicit decision rejecting the request referred to in paragraph 1.
The Director of Human Resources shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint.
In exceptional cases and for duly justified reasons, the Secretary General may declare admissible a complaint lodged after the expiry of the periods laid down in this paragraph.
4. The Secretary General shall give a reasoned decision on the complaint as soon as possible and not later than thirty days from the date of its receipt and shall notify it to the complainant. If, despite this obligation, the Secretary General fails to reply to the complainant within that period, he or she shall be deemed to have given an implicit decision rejecting the complaint.
5. Either on the initiative of the Secretary General or if the staff member so requests in his or her complaint, the complaint shall be referred to the Advisory Committee on Disputes. The Advisory Committee on Disputes shall formulate its opinion within one year of the date of such referral. In that event, the Secretary General shall have thirty days from the date of receipt of the opinion of the Advisory Committee on Disputes to give a decision on the complaint.
6. The Advisory Committee on Disputes shall comprise four staff members, two of whom shall be appointed by the Secretary General and two elected by the staff under the same conditions as those for the election of the Staff Committee. The committee shall be completely independent in the discharge of its duties. It shall formulate an opinion based on considerations of law and any other relevant matters after consulting the persons concerned where necessary. The Secretary General shall, by means of a rule, lay down the rules of procedure of the committee.
7. When dealing with cases concerning a staff member of the Council of Europe Development Bank, the Advisory Committee on Disputes shall include two members of the Bank’s staff, one of whom shall be appointed by the Governor and the other elected by the Bank’s staff under the same conditions as apply for the election of the Bank Staff Committee. These two members shall respectively take the place of the second member appointed by the Secretary General and the second member elected by the Council of Europe staff.
8. The complaints procedure set up by this article shall be open on the same conditions mutatis mutandis:
a. to former Council of Europe staff members;
b. to persons claiming through staff members or former Council of Europe staff members, within two years from the date of the act complained of; in the event of individual notification, the normal time-limit of thirty days shall apply;
c. to the Staff Committee, where the complaint relates to an act of which it is subject or to an act directly affecting its powers under the Staff Regulations;
d. to staff members and candidates outside the Council of Europe, who have been allowed to sit a competitive recruitment examination, provided the complaint relates to an irregularity in the examination procedure.
9. A complaint shall not have a suspensive effect. However, the complainant may apply to the Chair of the Administrative Tribunal, with copy to the Secretary General, for a stay of execution of the act complained of if its execution is likely to cause him or her grave prejudice difficult to redress. The Secretary General shall, save for duly justified reasons, stay the execution of the act until the Chair of the Administrative Tribunal has ruled on the application in accordance with the Tribunal’s Statute.
Article 60 – Appeals procedure2
1. In the event of either explicit rejection, in whole or part, or implicit rejection of a complaint lodged under Article 59, the complainant may appeal to the Administrative Tribunal set up by the Committee of Ministers.
2. The Administrative Tribunal, after establishing the facts, shall decide as to the law. In disputes of a pecuniary nature, it shall have unlimited jurisdiction. In other disputes, it may annul the act complained of. It may also order the Council to pay to the appellant compensation for damage resulting from the act complained of.
3. An appeal shall be lodged in writing within sixty days from the date of notification of the Secretary General’s decision on the complaint or from the expiry of the time-limit referred to in Article 59, paragraph 4. Nevertheless, in exceptional cases and for duly justified reasons, the Administrative Tribunal may declare admissible an appeal lodged after the expiry of these periods.
4. An appeal shall have no suspensive effect. However, if a stay of execution of the act complained of has been granted by the Chair of the Administrative Tribunal following an application under Article 59, paragraph 9, that stay of execution shall be maintained throughout the appeal proceedings unless the Tribunal decides otherwise on a reasoned request from the Secretary General.
5. While an appeal is pending, the Secretary General shall avoid taking any further measure in respect of the appellant which, in the event of the appeal being upheld, would render unfeasible the redress sought.
6. Decisions of the Administrative Tribunal shall be binding on the parties as soon as they are delivered. The Secretary General shall inform the Tribunal of the execution of its decisions within thirty days from the date on which they were delivered.
7. If the Secretary General considers that the execution of an annulment decision is likely to create serious internal difficulties for the Council, he or she shall inform the Tribunal to that effect in a reasoned opinion. If the Tribunal considers the reasons given by the Secretary General to be valid, it shall then fix the sum to be paid to the appellant by way of compensation.
Article 61 – Calculation of time-limits
The time-limits in Articles 59 and 60 shall run from midnight of the first day of each time-limit as defined in the provision concerned. Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays shall count when calculating a time-limit. However, where the last day of a time-limit is a Saturday, Sunday or an official holiday, the time-limit shall be extended to include the first working day thereafter.