Policies for agencies recognised to verify Wine Standards Management Plans (WSMPs)

Agencies who want to become regognised to verify Wine Standards Management Plans (WSMPs) may use these complaint, conflicts of interest (COI), confidentiality, and impartiality policies if they wish.

Complaint and appeal policy

The agency will advise operators of their right to submit a complaint or appeal regarding a decision made by the agency.

Complaints and appeals will be managed impartially, confidentially, and in a timely manner.

Managing complaints or appeals

  • A formal written complaint or appeal must not be managed by the person whom the complaint or appeal is against.
  • Respond to the submitter within 48 hours. If a decision cannot be made within this time, advice must be provided on the actions being taken and the expected timeframe for completion.
  • Maintain impartiality and confidentiality throughout the process.
  • Make decisions based on objective evidence and related specifications.
  • Inform the operator of the outcome and/or response.
  • Keep all records relating to the appeal or complaint for at least seven years.
  • If the operator does not accept that a decision is justified, the agency must inform the operator that they can take the complaint to MPI.
  • Supply evidence to MPI, including the original complaint, original decision, and supporting information.
  • Define the process for contacting MPI.

Conflict of interest policy

All personnel will be asked to identify and formally state whether an actual or potential conflict of interest exists with any clients or operators.

All work is to be completed without time constraints, intimidation, or other factors that could influence verification results.

Where a conflict of interest is identified and disclosed, an agreed method will be developed for managing, monitoring, or reporting on the conflict of interest.

Examples of conflict of interest

  • Wineries or wine businesses in which staff have a financial interest (such as shares, investments, common property ownership).
  • Wineries or wine businesses where a close relative or partner is in a position of responsibility.
  • A person being involved in the governance of a winery or wine business (for example, as a member of the board).
  • A person having other undertakings or personal relationships with a winery or wine business that could affect their judgement (for example, close community, iwi/ethnic, or religious obligations).
  • The verifier’s own wine being made or own grapes processed at a winery that is a client of the agency.
  • A verifier working in an isolated community or in situations where the judgement made by the verifier may affect the viability of the operation, the livelihood of winery employees, or the local economy.
  • Where the outcome of a verification visit is based on concerns for job security.
  • Where gifts, benefits, rewards, or hospitality are offered by a winery or wine business and received.
  • A person who verifies a specific plan being actively involved in the design, development, or implementation of that same plan in the previous two years.

Detecting and preventing conflicts of interest

Verifiers should:

  • attend calibration and training activities
  • communicate the right of appeal to wine businesses, including the ability to appeal to MPI
  • make a formal declaration that they have no conflict of interest.

Confidentiality policy

All information obtained during verification shall be treated as confidential, in particular propriety information that is made available to the verifier, and kept secure. Ownership of intellectual property, which includes the operations and activities of operators, will be recognised.

The distribution of information relating to an operator is limited to:

  • the people within the agency whose job requires them to have the information
  • an MPI auditor, the chief executive of the MPI, or a person authorised by the chief executive
  • the operator or a representative authorised by the operator.

No verbal discussion about any confidential information should be entered into with anyone, except for these people.

Impartiality policy

All verification activities must comply with all relevant regulatory requirements.

Verification activities determine operators' compliance with regulatory and export requirements.

Proactively working with wine operators

Operators are required to manage compliance. However, there will be situations where the verifier needs to discuss the wine standards management plan (WSMP), its implementation and corrective actions, while remaining impartial and independent. In these situations, the verifier needs to work with the operator in a proactive manner to fix problems, facilitate compliance, and help with capacity building.

'Proactive manner' means:

  • providing constructive, educative critique.

'Proactive manner' does not mean:

  • assuming accountability for operator compliance
  • acting in the capacity of a quality assurance manager
  • acting as an advocate between the company and MPI
  • assuming ownership for drafting documentation for the operator
  • providing commercial services for non-mandatory activities.

Giving unacceptable outcome feedback

Independence must not be compromised when providing feedback to an operator about an unacceptable outcome. The verifier should explain why an outcome is unacceptable and identify which legal requirements have not been met. The verifier and the operator should then agree on corrective actions to rectify non-compliance.

'Impartial' means:

  • maintaining neutrality
  • acting lawfully and objectively
  • ensuring actions are not affected by personal interests or relationships
  • declining gifts or benefits that place the verifier under any obligation or perceived influence
  • carrying out functions unaffected by personal beliefs
  • never misusing position for personal gain
  • effective separation of consultancy and assessment work for same client.
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