Conflicts of Interest Policy
1.1. The work of CasinoReviews.com includes journalism relating to the gambling industry, reviewing remote gambling businesses, educating consumers as to the best strategies to stay safe when playing online and how to get the most entertainment for their money, and managing disputes between consumers and online gambling operators.
1.2. CasinoReviews.com views it as critical that their team, especially their dispute resolution team, maintain principles of openness, fairness and impartiality. CasinoReviews.com will not allocate responsibility for managing any dispute to one of the ADR team in circumstances where it is considered that the recommendations, rulings (where the ADR Official enforces an outcome on the parties) or advice given by the ADR Official might be influenced by their private or commercial interests or that they may be able to profit from the outcome of the dispute. In the context of this overriding framework, this policy provides a set of principles to guide CasinoReviews.com employees in identifying relevant interests which must be disclosed to CasinoReviews.com and sets out CasinoReviews.com’s approach to allocating casework.
1.3. This policy applies to all CasinoReviews.com employees, with particular emphasis for any team member involved in any aspect of the dispute management process. While CasinoReviews.com’s staff that function in non-complaint related roles are not required to disclose relevant interests they must have regard to this policy and raise any matters of concern to line managers before taking on administrative or advisory roles in relation to the CasinoReviews.com’s casework which might prejudice or be perceived to, by a “fair minded observer”, prejudice fairness or impartiality. CasinoReviews.com staff that function in complaint related roles are required to disclose relevant interests on our Register of Interests.
2. What is a Conflict of Interest?
2.1. A conflict of interest can occur when an ADR Official, or other involved team member, is put in a situation or circumstance that impacts their ability to apply judgement or act in their role, or could be, impaired or influenced by a secondary interest. It can happen in any situation where there is a possibility that an individual or organisation could exploit an ADR Official for personal or other benefit.
2.2. Even if the individual doesn’t actually benefit, a conflict can still occur if it appears a decision may have been influenced. The perception of competing interests, impaired judgement or undue influence may also be considered a conflict of interest.
3. Identifying Potential Conflicts of Interest and Allocating Work
3.1. ADR Officials must disclose all relevant personal, financial or other interests (as set out below at sections 4 to 9) on first taking up work with CasinoReviews.com. These disclosed interests will be recorded by CasinoReviews.com on the Register of Interests to assist in the proper and efficient allocation of work. Before ADR Officials accept any casework or agree to act in an advisory role on any case, ADR Officials must ensure that their disclosed interests on the Register of Interests are up-to-date and consider in relation to that particular casework whether relevant interests might put them in conflict with their duty to act fairly, openly and impartially.
3.2. CasinoReviews.com will not ordinarily allocate work in the circumstances described below where an ADR Official might have (or be perceived to have) a personal or financial interest in the outcome of the decision-making process relevant to the casework and it is considered that there is a real risk of an actual or perceived conflict of interests arising which would undermine impartiality. In all cases, CasinoReviews.com will take a proportionate approach based on the facts available and having reasonable regard to relevant factors.
3.3 In the unlikely circumstance that CasinoReviews.com cannot provide an ADR Official that is not subject to a material conflict of interests, in the first instance both parties to the complaint will be informed of the conflict of interest and given the choice as to whether to continue. If either party is unwilling to continue, a 3rd party ADR service will be contacted and engaged to manage the complaint.
3.4 Relevant interests are not confined to the examples set out below. It is the responsibility of ADR Officials to identify and keep under review all personal, financial or other interests which may be relevant to CasinoReviews.com casework and to advise the CasinoReviews.com accordingly. Should any conflict of interest become apparent following allocation of casework ADR Officials may be required to:
· step aside from the case;
· abandon the interest (if practical to do so); or
· (where applicable) bring the matter to the attention of the parties and seek their views to enable CasinoReviews.com to consider whether it is appropriate for the ADR Official to continue working on the case.
4. Financial Interests
4.1. ADR Officials must disclose to CasinoReviews.com financial interests (including for example shares, bonds or options providing controlling interests or membership of pension schemes where ADR Officials have knowledge and control of where investments are made) in any entity (here meaning any company or group of companies) which offers remote gambling services or is involved in offering ancillary services to the gambling industry. These interests will be included on our Register of Interests.
4.2. As soon as they are able to do so ADR Officials must also disclose any financial interests in or financial relationship with any party directly involved in any case file that they are managing.
4.3. If an ADR Official has financial interests in or financial relationship with any party involved in a dispute they are managing it is considered that there is a risk that an actual or perceived conflict of interest may arise and ADR Official will not generally therefore be allocated to casework in these circumstances.
4.4. In some circumstances an actual or perceived conflict may also arise where an ADR Official has financial interests in other parties functioning in an ancillary fashion to one of the parties directly involved in the case. However, a proportionate approach will be taken on the facts of the particular casework having regard to the extent of control which the financial interest might provide. In all cases it will be relevant to consider whether an ADR Official might gain (or be perceived to gain) a pecuniary advantage (as a result of that financial interest) in the outcome of the decision-making process relevant to the casework which would undermine impartiality.
5. Concurrent Work
5.1. ADR Officials must disclose to CasinoReviews.com any concurrent public appointments or concurrent paid or unpaid employment or business generally relevant to CasinoReview’s casework. (This would include for example work with any gambling operator or ancillary service to the gambling industry.)
5.2. If an ADR Official is employed by or is carrying out work for (either personally or through their practice employer in a consultancy role) either party directly involved in any case they are managing it is considered that there is a risk that an actual or perceived conflict of interest may arise and ADR Official will not be allocated to casework in these circumstances.
5.3. In some circumstances an actual or perceived conflict of interest may also arise where an ADR Official is concurrently employed by or carrying out work for persons or organisations with close connections to the casework in question. It is important that CasinoReviews.com is able to attract and retain ADR Officials with relevant experience and current skills and a proportionate approach will therefore be taken on the facts of the particular casework and the nature of the concurrent work. Relevant factors may include the size of the organisation for whom the ADR Official (or the ADR Official’s practice) is working and whether the work can be considered peripheral to the relevant aims and objectives of the organisation such that the ADR Official is unlikely to have any direct knowledge or involvement which might lead a reasonable person to conclude that a conflict of interests may exist.
6. Previous Work and/or Employment or Other Unpaid Activities
6.1. ADR Officials must disclose to CasinoReviews.com any previous public appointments or paid or unpaid employment or business generally relevant to the CasinoReviews.com’s casework held or carried out within the past five years. The time period of five years is provided as a guide; where known views held or actions taken as a result of previous employment could result in a perceived or actual conflict irrespective of the time of the employment this should be disclosed too.
6.2. As noted above, ADR Officials must have relevant experience and skills and a proportionate approach will therefore be taken on the facts of the particular casework and the nature of the previous work. Relevant factors may include the size of the organisation for whom the ADR Official (or the ADR Official’s practice) worked and whether the work could be considered peripheral to the relevant aims and objectives of the organisation such that the ADR Official would be unlikely to have gained any direct knowledge or involvement which might lead a reasonable person to conclude that a conflict of interests may exist.
7. Membership of Organisations and Societies
7.1. ADR Officials must declare membership of any professional or social organisations or any non-government organisations whose aims and objectives are generally relevant to the ADR Official’s casework.
7.2. In some circumstances an actual or perceived conflict of interest may arise where an ADR Official is a member of an organisation or society having direct involvement in (for example as an interested party) or with close connections to the casework in question. However, a proportionate approach will be taken on the facts of the particular casework having regard to the size of the organisation, any publicly held views of the ADR Official and any direct involvement with the activities of the organisation which might cast doubt on the ADR Official’s impartiality.
8. Interests of Family and Close Associates
8.1. ADR Officials must consider whether any family members (including partner, parents, partner’s parents, children and partners of adult children) or close associates (any individual whom a reasonable member of the public might think that ADR Official would be prepared to favour or disadvantage in relation to CasinoReviews.com’s casework, including for example friends or business associates) have personal, financial or other interests relevant to CasinoReviews.com’s casework (as identified above at sections 4 to 7) and disclose them on first taking up work with CasinoReviews.com. As soon as they are able to do so on the basis of available casework details ADR Officials must review and update these interests.
8.2. If the player, or any employee at a gambling operator is a member of the ADR Official’s family or is a close associate it is considered that there is a risk that an actual or perceived conflict of interest may arise and the ADR Official will not therefore be allocated to casework in those circumstances.
8.3. An actual or perceived conflict may also arise in circumstances where a member of an ADR Official’s family or a close associate has a relevant financial interest or an association with persons or organisations with close connections to the casework in question. However, a proportionate approach will be taken based on the facts of the particular casework, the nature of the interest, the closeness of the ADR Official’s relationship to the family member or close associate and whether the ADR Official’s impartiality may be reasonably perceived to be undermined by the relationship.
8.4. In all cases it will be relevant to consider whether a family member or close associate might have (or be perceived to have) a financial interest in the outcome of the decision-making process relevant to the casework.
9. Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality
9.1. Due propriety must be observed with regard to gifts and hospitality. ADR Officials should not accept gifts or hospitality which may, or may appear to, compromise their impartiality.
10.1. If interests are not disclosed and there is subsequent complaint or litigation on the grounds of impropriety, disciplinary action may follow. However, a proportionate approach will be taken based on the circumstances surrounding the issue. Examples of some factors that may be considered are: whether the ADR Official could reasonably have been expected to know of the conflict or whether this conflict could have occurred without the ADR Official’s knowledge, whether the conflict would reasonably have been expected to unduly influence the outcome of the case in question, the extent to any financial disadvantage that resulted from the conflict, the degree to which ill-intent is evidenced by the ADR Official’s actions