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FSC Dispute Resolution System

© FSC GD - Arturo Escobar

What is a dispute?

Disputes (and related processes) consist of complaints from stakeholders or appeals against previous decisions taken by FSC.

Complaints can be related to a violation of one of the six elements in our Policy for Association (read more here), or more general complaints about misconduct against FSC standards by certificate holders, certification bodies, ASI or even FSC itself.

How to submit a complaint

Stakeholders may submit a complaint about the operation of the FSC certification system, the FSC network, the FSC accreditation programme or the performance of FSC accredited certification bodies.

In the case of general complaints about certificate holders or a certification body, stakeholders are encouraged to submit the complaint directly to the certificate holder or certification body in question. It is only appropriate to escalate the dispute to a certification body (when the dispute is with a certificate holder) or Accreditation Services International (ASI) (when the dispute is with a certification body), when no resolution to the dispute is achieved through direct engagement.

Please go to the FSC certificate database to look for certificate holders. You can view the latest list of FSC accredited certification bodies on the ASI website.

If you’re ready to submit a complaint to FSC, fill out the dispute submission form here. Please note that in the case of a complaint related to the Policy for Association, the Policy for Association submission form should be used to submit the complaint.

In the case of requests for appeals, please use the Appeals submission form.

This process is fully defined through "FSC Dispute Resolution System" Procedures (FSC-PRO-01-009 Processing Policy for Association Complaints in the FSC Certification Scheme, FSC-PRO-01-008 Processing Complaints in the FSC Certification Scheme and FSC-PRO-01-005 Processing Appeals) and other supporting documents.

How complaints are handled

Before parties submit a complaint, they must first try to resolve the issue through other means such as dialogue or mediation.

If the parties cannot solve the issue, they must prepare a submission accompanied by substantive evidence.

Depending on the complaint, the following procedures take place:

1) Any complaint related to FSC normative framework, the performance of FSC International, of the ASI or of the FSC Network are handled directly by FSC. (FSC-PRO-01-008 (V-2))  

An assigned FSC employee will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 10 days after the complaint has been sent. Within 30 days, the parties will be contacted by FSC staff and asked to attempt informally resolving the issue through direct communication. If an informal resolution is not possible, the FSC employee investigates the issue and provides the FSC Director General with a recommendation on the complaint. Additional information may be requested from the different parties involved in the issue.

The FSC Director General must then reply to the parties within 60 days from receiving the complaint. The response includes a conclusion on the complaint and explains the reason behind this decision. It may also include follow-up measures if required. If no further issue arises, the complaint is considered as solved and its case file gets closed.

If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the process, they may appeal the decision.

2) Complaints against FSC-certified organizations about their compliance with the FSC certification requirements are dealt with by the certification body who issued the certificate. These complaints are processed according to the procedure of each certification body. 

3) Complaints against FSC certification bodies are managed by ASI. These complaints are processed according to the ASI-PRO-20-104-V5.1 procedure – outlined further here.

4) Any person who is concerned that a company associated with FSC is engaging in unacceptable activities can submit a complaint to us through the Policy for Association procedure (FSC-PRO-01-009 (V-3)).

FSC Dispute Resolution System Flowchart


Download the PDF

  • FSC-PRO-01-009 (V3-0) EN Processing Policy for Association Complaints in the FSC<sup>®</sup> Certification Scheme
    FSC-PRO-01-009 (V3-0) EN Processing Policy for Association Complaints in the FSC® Certification Scheme
  • FSC-PRO-01-008 (V2-0) EN Processing Complaints in the FSC<sup>®</sup> Certification Scheme
    FSC-PRO-01-008 (V2-0) EN Processing Complaints in the FSC® Certification Scheme
  • FSC-PRO-01-005 (V3-0) EN Processing Appeals
    FSC-PRO-01-005 (V3-0) EN Processing Appeals
  • Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC (FSC-POL-01-004 V2-0 EN)
    Policy for the Association of Organizations with FSC (FSC-POL-01-004 V2-0 EN)