Complaining to regulatory bodies
When can you complain to a regulatory body?
Your first step when complaining is to make your complaint directly to the organisation involved and use their complaints procedure. In some circumstances, though, for example if your complaint is not dealt with to your satisfaction, you can go to a regulatory body.
Regulatory bodies have wide functions which include upholding standards and in some instances they have disciplinary functions in the event of professional misconduct. In addition their decisions can be reviewed by courts or other bodies. Consequently regulatory bodies have considerable powers which may be more effective and rewarding than a direct complaint to an organisation.
You will find a list below of regulatory bodies in the UK. See if one might be appropriate for your case and go online to look at their website or contact them by phone to check. If it does have authority to investigate find out what their processes are.
Use the records from OnRecord to write a complaint report or statement for the regulator.
What is a regulatory body?
A regulatory body is like a professional body but it is not a membership organisation and its primary activity is to protect the public. Unlike professional bodies, it is established on the basis of legal mandate.
Regulatory bodies exercise a regulatory function, that is:
- Imposing requirements;
- Restrictions and conditions;
- Setting standards in relation to any activity;
- Securing compliance, or enforcement.
They cover a wide variety of professions, for example the General Medical Council registers doctors to practice medicine in the UK. Its purpose is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine.
Not all professions are regulated. Some professions are self-regulating in that the same body both represents and regulates the profession, for example the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. However, within these professional bodies there is a clear separation between the two functions.
For those that are regulated there is a restriction on a person’s right to practice based on evidence of their qualifications – physiotherapists, social workers and patent attorneys are all examples of regulated professions.
With unregulated professions there is no restriction on the person’s right to practice – these include economists and archaeologists. This does not mean they are not qualified, just that they do not need to be registered with a regulatory body in order to do their job.
Additionally some professional titles are regulated even where the profession itself is not. Examples of these are Chartered Engineer and Charted Marketer. These titles are awarded by professional bodies.
Individuals practicing a regulated profession need to be able to show evidence of registration with the appropriate regulatory body. Those in unregulated professions demonstrate their competence through evidence of experience or regulated education and training. Recognition is also given to those holding a ‘protected title’ in an unregulated profession; they need to demonstrate the right to use such a title.
List of regulatory bodies in the UK
Architects Registration Board.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB), created by the Architects Act 1997, is the independent regulator of all UK registered architects. The register is searchable online. Also on the site are details of the complaint procedure, information leaflets, annual reports 2000/01 onwards, the architects’ Code of Conduct, and many other publications. The Architects Act 1997 is reproduced on the site.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates advertising across all UK media and applies the advertising codes, which are written by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).
This professional association for practitioners in regulatory and disciplinary law was established in 2002.
The Bar Standards Board (BSB) regulates barristers called to the bar in England and Wales. It was established in January 2006 to take over and run separately the regulatory function which had hitherto been carried out by the Bar Council.
The Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) is responsible for appointing and administering disciplinary tribunals for barristers in England and Wales facing charges of professional misconduct, and Inns’ Conduct Committee panels dealing with admission and disciplinary matters concerning student members of an Inn or applicants for admission. It was set up by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) at the request of the Bar Standards Board and became operational from 1 February 2013.
CSSIW is the body responsible for regulating and inspecting establishments and agencies which provide social care services in Wales.
Care Inspectorate is the day to day working name of the body whose formal name is Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS). It regulates and inspects social care, social work and child protection services in Scotland.
The Care Quality Commission regulates all health and adult social care in England, and protects the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Established under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, it replaced the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Healthcare Commission and the Mental Health Act Commission on 1 April 2009
The Charity Commission is the regulator and registrar of charities in England and Wales.
CILEx Regulation (formerly ILEX Professional Standards) is the independent regulator of members of CILEx (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and of certain other individuals who are not members of CILEx but who have practice rights in the legal sector.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the UK. Its functions include economic regulation, safety regulation, consumer protection, and the regulation of airports, air traffic services, airlines, tour operators and air travel organisers. In relation to airport operation services and the supply of air traffic services it also exercises competition powers concurrently with the Competition and Markets Authority.
The Civil Service Commission is a non-departmental public body, independent of Government and of the Civil Service, which regulates recruitment to the Civil Service and hears complaints under the Civil Service Code.
Regulation of claims management activities in England and Wales was introduced under the Compensation Act 2006 and came fully into force on 23 April 2007. The regulator is the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
This regulatory body came into being in 2013 and exercises the functions of three former bodies: the Commission for Ethical Standards, the Public Standards Commissioner for Scotland and the Public Appointments Commissioner for Scotland. The Commissioner investigates complaints about the conduct of MSPs, local authority councillors and members of public bodies and also regulates how people are appointed to the boards of public bodies in Scotland.
The role of the Commissioner for Public Appointments in England and Wales is to regulate, monitor, report and advise on appointments made by UK ministers and by members of the National Assembly for Wales to the boards of around 1100 national and regional public bodies. The post was created in response to the publication in 1995 of the Nolan Committee’s first report on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2850).
The Commissioner regulates the process by which many of the public appointments in Northern Ireland are made. The post was created in 1995 in response to the publication of the Nolan Committee’s first report on Standards in Public Life (Cm 2850).
Companies House, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, carries out a number of functions, including registration, relating to limited companies and company records in the UK.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is a non-ministerial UK government department which is responsible for promoting business competition and preventing and reducing anti-competitive activities. It was created in shadow form on 1 October 2013 and became fully operational on 1 April 2014, when it took over many of the functions of the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading.
The Competion Appeal Tribunal (CAT) hears and decides appeals and other applications or claims involving competition or economic regulatory issues. It was created by the Enterprise Act 2002 and replaced the former Competition Commission Appeal Tribunal.
The Competition Commission was an independent body responsible for investigating mergers, market shares and conditions, and the regulation of the major regulated industries, from 1 April 1999 (when it replaced the Monopolies and Mergers Commission) until 1 April 2014, when it was abolished and replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Competition Law Review is a refereed online journal published twice a year from 2004 onwards by the Competition Law Scholars Forum (CLaSF), an organisation which aims to promote competition law scholarship in the UK, member states of the EU, and states which may accede to the EU.
The Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) is the Approved Regulator of costs lawyers in England and Wales.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) is the regulatory body for licensed conveyancers in England and Wales.
The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) is responsible for the regulation of all qualifications in Northern Ireland.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was formed on 14 July 2016 from a merger of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Its responsibilities include business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy and climate change.
The Education Workforce Council (EWC) is the independent regulator in Wales for teachers and learning support staff in schools and further education. It became operational on 1 April 2015 as successor to the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW).
The Environment Agency, a non-departmental public body sponsored by Defra, has been the principal regulator on environmental matters in England since it came into existence on 1 April 1996.
The admission and regulation of notaries in England and Wales is a function of the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates the financial services industry in the UK. It was established on 1 April 2013 as one of the successors to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), and has since 1 April 2015 had concurrent competition powers in relation to financial services alongside the Competition and Markets Authority. The Financial Services Register, a register of all the firms, individuals and other bodies regulated by the FSA, is accessible online.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is an independent regulator responsible for promoting confidence in corporate reporting and governance in the UK. It oversees the regulatory activity of the actuarial profession and the professional accounting bodies in the UK, and is the independent disciplinary body for accountants, accounting firms and actuaries.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) was responsible for regulation of the financial services industry in the UK between 2001 and 2013. Site content remains available but is no longer updated.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is a non-ministerial government department created in 2000 to protect public health and consumer interests in relation to food.
The Gambling Commission was established in October 2005, under the Gambling Act 2005, initially to regulate all commercial gambling in Great Britain apart from spread betting (regulated by the Financial Services Authority) and the National Lottery (regulated by the National Lottery Commission). The National Lottery Commission was subsequently merged with the Gambling Commission on 1 October 2013.
The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) was created under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 to curb the exploitation of workers in the agriculture, forestry, horticulture, shellfish gathering, and food processing and packaging industries. From May 2017, renamed the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), it also exercises police-style powers to investigate labour abuse and exploitation across all aspects of the UK labour market.
The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) regulates chiropractors throughout the UK.
The General Dental Council (GDC) regulates all dental professionals in the UK. The Dentists Register and Rolls of Dental Auxiliaries are searchable on its web site.
The General Medical Council (GMC) registers doctors to practise medicine in the UK. The List of Registered Medical Practitioners, a register of doctors who are eligible to work in general practice in the health service in the UK, may be searched.
The General Optical Council (GOC) regulates dispensing opticians and optometrists and those bodies corporate carrying on business as optometrists or dispensing opticians in the UK. Its Register is searchable online.
The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) regulates the profession of osteopathy and maintains the statutory register of osteopaths in the UK. The register is searchable online.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has been the regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in England, Scotland and Wales since 27 September 2010.
The General Regulatory Chamber (GRC) of the First-tier Tribunal deals with a broad range of appeals, mostly against decisions of various government regulatory bodies. These include the Charity Commission, Claims Management Regulator, Gambling Commission, Information Commissioner’s Office, Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, Pensions Regulator and others.
The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) was set up under the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 as the self-regulating professional body for the teaching profession in Northern Ireland. It maintains a register of teachers in Northern Ireland which is searchable online.
The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) was set up under the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act 1965 as the regulatory body for the teaching profession in Scotland. It maintains a register, searchable online, of teachers who are eligible to teach in public sector schools in Scotland.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) currently regulates members of sixteen professions in the UK, including chiropodists, dietitians, paramedics, physiotherapists, radiographers, social workers in England, and practitioner psychologists. It was originally established under the Health Professions Order 2001 as the Health Professions Council, changing its name on 1 August 2012 when responsibility for social workers in England was transferred.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a non-departmental public body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare in England, Wales and Scotland.
The responsibilities of Healthcare Improvement Scotland include the inspection and regulation of independent healthcare services in Scotland, including hospitals, hospices and clinics. Select “Inspecting and regulating care” via the Scrutiny tab to access relevant information, guidance and inspection reports.Healthcare Inspectorate Wales
The Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) is the independent inspectorate and regulator of all healthcare in Wales.
The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), a non-departmental public body, is the national housing and regeneration agency for England. It took over responsibility for the regulation of social housing providers in England from the Tenant Services Authority on 1 April 2012.
Legacy site of the national government agency which formerly funded new affordable housing and regulated housing associations in England. Its regulatory role was taken over on 1 December 2008 by the newly created Tenant Services Authority (which was in turn replaced in 2012 by the Homes and Communities Agency). This site is now accessible via the National Archives.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) was created in 1991, under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, to regulate safe and appropriate practice in fertility treatment and human embryo research.
The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) was set up under the Human Tissue Act 2004 to regulate the removal, storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissue from the living and deceased.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. It replaced the Press Complaints Commission.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for data protection and freedom of information in the UK.
The Insolvency Service is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. It administers bankruptcies and debt relief orders; looks into the affairs of companies in liquidation and makes reports of any director misconduct; it investigates trading companies and takes action to wind them up and/or disqualify the directors if there is evidence of misconduct.
The Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg) was set up to undertake the regulation of the patent attorney and trade mark attorney professions on behalf of both the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) and the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (ITMA), which are Approved Regulators under the Legal Services Act 2007.
The International Compliance Association (ICA) is a non-profit making professional organisation which promotes best compliance and anti-money laundering practice in the financial services sector.
The Legal Services Board (LSB) became fully operational on 1 January 2010 as the single “oversight regulator” for the legal profession in England and Wales. It oversees those bodies designated Approved Regulators which directly regulate providers of legal services, including solicitors, barristers, legal executives, licensed conveyancers, patent and trade mark attorneys, notaries, costs lawyers and chartered accountants.
Sir David Clementi’s Review of the regulation of legal services in England and Wales published its report on 15 December 2004. Besides the full text of the report, the site (now archived) has general information about the Review and its terms of reference.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) is responsible for adjudication upon doctors’ fitness to practise in the UK. It was launched on 11 June 2012 and is operationally separate from the body which was responsible before that date, the General Medical Council (GMC).
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an executive agency of the Department of Health, formed in 2003 from a merger of the Medical Devices Agency and the Medicines Control Agency.
Monitor was established on 5 January 2004 with responsibility for authorising, monitoring and regulating NHS foundation trusts. On 1 April 2013 it took on additional duties as the sector regulator for health services in England, responsible for protecting and promoting the interests of patients, and with concurrent powers alongside the Competition and Markets Authority to enforce competition law in respect of the provision of healthcare services in England.
The Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) is the body responsible for regulating and registering the social care workforce in Northern Ireland. Its register is searchable online.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulates nurses and midwives in the UK and maintains a register of qualified nurses, midwives and specialist community public health nurses. The register is searchable online.
Ofcom (the Office of Communications) is the independent regulator and competition authority for the media and communications industries in the UK. It was created in December 2003 from a merger of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority and the Radio Communications Agency. It has also been responsible for the regulation since 1 October 2011 of the UK’s postal services, and since 3 April 2017 of the BBC.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) was a non-ministerial government department which was responsible for promoting and protecting consumer interests in the UK and ensuring that businesses were fair and competitive. The OFT was abolished on 1 April 2014 and its work and responsibilities transferred to various bodies including the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR – formerly the Office of Rail Regulation) is the independent regulator of Britain’s railway industry and monitor of Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency). Like several other economic regulators it exercises, concurrently with the Competition and Markets Authority, competition and consumer powers within its sector.
The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) regulates those immigration advisers in the UK who are not members of professional bodies such as the Law Society and the General Council of the Bar.
The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner was an independent government-appointed regulator who worked with consumers and solicitors to improve the complaint-handling function of the Law Society of England and Wales.
The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is the independent regulator and registrar of Scottish charities, equivalent to the Charity Commission in England and Wales. The Scottish Charity Register may be searched on its site.
Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) regulates Great Britain’s gas and electricity markets. Like several other industry regulators it also exercises, concurrently with the Competition and Markets Authority, competition and consumer powers within its sector.
Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) was established in April 2008 as the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England.
Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) inspects education and training for learners of all ages in England except those in higher education institutes and universities. Since 1 April 2007 it has also been responsible for the registration, regulation and inspection of children’s social care in England.
Ofwat (the Water Services Regulation Authority) is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales. It also plays a role under the Competition Act 1998.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) was formed on 1 April 2015, initially as an executive agency of the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, with responsibilities that include regulation of the UK oil and gas industry. On 1 October 2016 it became a government company.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) is a subsidiary of the Financial Conduct Authority but operates as the independent economic regulator of the payment systems industry in the UK. It has concurrent competition powers alongside the Competition and Markets Authority and became fully operational on 1 April 2015.
The Pensions Regulator, created under the Pensions Act 2004, replaced the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) on 6 April 2005 as the regulatory body for work-based pension schemes in the UK.
The Society is the regulatory and professional body for pharmacists in Northern Ireland. Its register is searchable online.
The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA) is the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill. It was known before 1 November 2016 as PhonepayPlus, and earlier still as ICSTIS (the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of the Telephone Information Services).
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) closed on 8 September 2014 and was replaced as regulator of the UK press by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). The PCC site is being maintained for a period to provide a record of its rulings 1996-2014.
The Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care promotes best practice and consistency in the regulation of health and care professionals by nine regulatory bodies – the General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council, and Pharmaceutical Council of Northern Ireland. This includes reviewing their disciplinary decisions and, where considered appropriate, referring them to the High Court. It was known before 1 December 2012 as the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE), and was originally established in 2003 as the Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals (CRHP). Current site content extends back to 2008.
The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) is responsible for the prudential regulation and supervision of banks, building societies, credit unions, insurers and major investment firms in the UK. It is part of the Bank of England, and was established by the Financial Services Act 2012 as one of the successors to the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) is the independent health and social care services regulator for Northern Ireland.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK, with statutory responsibilities set out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.
The functions of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) include the regulation of property professionals and surveyors in the UK.
This site explains the rights of members of the public, and the responsibilities of public authorities, under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for regulating and registering the Scottish social service workforce. Its register is searchable online.
Social Care Wales is responsible for registering and regulating social care workers in Wales. It was established on 3 April 2017 and combines the functions of the former Care Council for Wales and the Social Services Improvement Agency. Its online register is searchable.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has been the independent regulator of solicitors in England and Wales since January 2007.
The Panel on Takeovers and Mergers is the regulatory body which administers the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers.
Tenant Services Authority (TSA) was the operating name of the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords (OTSL), the body which regulated social housing in England from 1 December 2008, when it replaced the Housing Corporation, until it was itself replaced on 1 April 2012 by the Homes and Communities Agency.
The Utility Regulator is the informal name of the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR), which regulates the electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries in Northern Ireland. Like its counterpart authorities in Great Britain, Ofgem and Ofwat, NIAUR also exercises powers within its sector, concurrently with the Competition and Markets Authority, under the Competition Act 1998.