Rules of Registration
RULES OF REGISTRATION TO SUPPLY CERTIFICATION SERVICES (CERTIFICATION AGREEMENT- F27.1 AND CERTIFICATION PROCESS F.25.1).
Rules of Registration between AA Certification Limited (AAC) and the Client (organisations audited and certified by AAC).
These Rules of Registration are legally binding on both parties and commence on the date that the Client’s application for Registration is accepted by AAC. A separate document covering the use of certification and or accreditation marks and AAC’s logos forms part of this agreement which can be viewed here and the Client in applying for Registration also agrees to follow these Rules of Registration.
These Rules of Registration have been drawn up in accordance with the requirements placed upon AA Certification by accreditation bodies such as UKAS. AAC must and shall abide by these requirements which are detailed in ISO 17021.
The scope of accreditation issued by relevant accreditation bodies i.e. UKAS is an acknowledgement that AAC has the necessary expertise and ability to manage audits in those particular sectors. Details of all accredited scopes held by AAC are available on request or by visiting www.ukas.com.
If a particular sector is outside the present accredited scope of AAC then an unaccredited certificate may be offered at the discretion of AAC. Accredited certificates, therefore, refer to certificates issued by AAC where AAC has been accredited by a National Accreditation Body such as UKAS to issue certificates against the requirements of management standards i.e. ISO 9001.
For the purpose of these Terms and Conditions:
Accredited/Unaccredited Scope - Accredited means the scope of activities for which AAC has received authorisation from UKAS (or other national Accreditation Body) to issue certificates which bear the UKAS certification mark. Unaccredited scopes are therefore scopes which are not accredited by UKAS. Unaccredited certificates will only bear AAC’s logo.
Applicant - an individual, body corporate or body unincorporated applying for a Certificate of Registration.
Assessment - a verification of the effectiveness of the relevant Management System operated by an Applicant through the examination of materials, finished product, methods of test, records, systems, environmental and other activities established by the Applicant within its Management System.
Impartiality Committee - the committee appointed to establish and monitor the performance of the AAC certification scheme and make recommendations for improvement as necessary.
Certificate of Registration - a document issued by AAC in recognition that the management system operated by the Applicant meets the requirements of the applicable Standard and these Terms and Conditions.
Client - applicant or registered company as appropriate.
Product - the goods, processes or services provided by a client.
Certification of a Management System - the independent demonstration that the management system of the organisation
a) Conforms to specified requirements
b) Is capable of consistently achieving its state policy and objectives, and
c) Is effectively implemented
Registered Company - an individual, body corporate or body unincorporated which has been granted a Certificate of Registration.
Registration - the ongoing process through which Clients gain and maintain certification against a particular standard or standards. Registration, therefore, encompasses all certification activities, including all activities outside of the certification process required to maintain Registration i.e. payment terms and conditions.
Rules of Registration - the rules governing the Registration of this Service.
Scope of Registration ‐ those activities undertaken by the Client which are audited by AAC representatives and specified (or will be specified) on the certificate. The scope of Registration also includes all premises and standards included on a certificate issued by AAC.
AAC does not and will not offer consultancy or conduct internal audits.
AAC does not and will not certify another certification body for its management systems certification activities.
Observer - a person who accompanies the audit team but does not act as an auditor. An observer can be a member of the auditee, a regulator UKAS or another interested party. In addition, a technical expert may accompany an auditor but does not act as an auditor in the audit team unless qualified to do so.
Presence of Observers, Technical experts etc
It is a condition of clients applying for and maintaining certification that, where applicable, they make provision and accommodate the presence of observers etc. when required to do so.
Application for Registration
On receiving an initial enquiry and completed application, AAC will review this information and issue a quotation detailing assessment costs and durations. This may be followed by a telephone call to answer any questions and confirm the customer’s intention to proceed. Customers will be required to submit a signed application form when proceeding with their application for assessment.
The audit days allocated to the assessment will be based on the information submitted on the application/quotation form. Failure by the applicant to provide accurate details of employees’ subcontractor, seasonal workers, sites and their locations may lead to a delay in the certification process and additional costs. The application must be fully completed and signed by authorised personnel before any assessment activity can take place. Arrangements will then be made to undertake the Stage 1 assessment.
Access to Processes
For all assessments, clients are required to make all necessary arrangements for the conduct of the audit, including access to all processes and areas within the organisation, records and personnel for the purpose of AAC having the ability to undertake each assessment effectively. This policy also applies to follow-up audits following a complaint received from an interested party e.g. about the products/services provided by the certified organisation.
The initial audit is carried out in several stages:
The Stage 1 audit is carried out at the client's premises and is designed to demonstrate that the Client has a management system that meets the requirements of the appropriate standard. It will normally involve an on‐site review of the documentation, a limited audit of some of the management processes (if available) and the development of a plan for the stage 2 audit. A full report will be given to the organisation and a date agreed for the stage 2 audit.
Upon completion of the Stage 1 visit, the audit findings shall be documented and communicated to the client, including identification of any areas of concern that could be classified as non-conformity during the Stage 2 audit.
The Stage 2 audit is carried out on‐site at the Client’s premises and will determine whether the Client has fully implemented the management system and that it meets the requirements of the appropriate standards or specifications (including relevant legislation). The Client will need to make all relevant documentation available, allow audit staff access to the Client’s staff as required and allow audit staff to visit Client sites where this is necessary.
Visits to the Client’s sites will need to be arranged by the Client. The Client is responsible for ensuring that all health and safety considerations (relevant to the audit visit) and requirements are made known to AAC prior to commencement of a visit to a Client’s site.
Following certification, AAC must be informed, by the Client, if any circumstances occur that significantly affect the Registration (i.e. additional processes, additional locations, removal of locations, change of company name, change of company address, change of nominated representative). AAC reserves the right to re‐audit if necessary.
On completion of the stage 2 audit, the audit team submits a full report to AAC Head Office. On receiving a report stating that the Client's management system is recommended as meeting the requirements of the relevant standards or specifications, the report will be reviewed together with supporting documentation by a suitably qualified, independent and authorised member of AAC’s staff who will, if agreeing with the recommendation, authorise the issue of a certificate with the Registration number and scope of Registration.
Should the audit raise non‐conformances against any clause of the standard(s) audited at stage 2 these must be corrected (also referred to as corrective action) by the Client within the timescale agreed with the auditor and subsequently closed out by AAC either from documentation sent to AAC or as a result of a further audit (to check the corrective action taken) before a certificate can be authorised to be issued.
The Client agrees to meet the extra costs relating to such increased visits or to review documentation sent into AAC. The certificate and reports remain the property of AAC. The certificate is valid for up to three years (depending upon the relevant standards or specifications). Should the Client cease to be registered, AAC will require any certificates issued to the Client to be returned. The Certificate of Registration is personal to the Company who must not give permission for it to be used by a third party.
Registration is on an annual basis subject to continued compliance with the Standard following a successful annual surveillance visit. Certificates remain the property of AA Certification Ltd
Certificates of registration shall not be issued unless AA Certification Ltd has received payment in full.
AAC maintains and makes publically accessible a directory of valid certifications.
Please contact us to make an enquiry about specific certifications including validity, suspension or withdrawal.
Notification of changes by a client (expanding or reducing the scope of certification)
Certified clients must inform AAC without delay of matters that may affect the capability of the management system i.e. legal or commercial organisation status or ownership, contact address and sites, scope including expanding or reducing the scope of certification etc.
Extensions to the scope of Registration may be applied in the same way as the initial audit. An audit will be required to verify the changes or additions. If successful, a new certificate indicating the new scope will be issued by AAC. Extensions to scope normally cover additional processes or additional permanent locations. An extension to scope will require the completion of a questionnaire and an application from the Client. Additional payment is normally required and AAC will follow the procedure outlined in the “Application for registration / certification”.
AAC agrees to inform its Clients of any major changes to the certificated schemes which may materially affect their certification. The clients agrees to implement appropriate changes accordingly.
All advertising materials must be amended if the scope specified on the certificate is reduced.
Annual Surveillance Audit
After the issue of a certificate, a pre-arranged surveillance visit will be carried out at the client's premises. If areas of concern are identified that may require a revisit as recommended by the Lead Auditor, the management would review the report/recommendation and if in agreement with it, the client agrees to meet the extra cost relating to any additional assessments required.
Recertification Audit (Renewal)
To extend the certification beyond the 3-year period (or any other period covered by a particular standard or scheme) a recertification audit is required. This takes place prior to the expiry date of the certificate. Should the audit raise any nonconformance against any clause of the standard(s) audited at the recertification audit, these must be corrected (also referred to as corrective action) by the Client within the timescale agreed with the auditor, and subsequently closed out by AAC either from documentation sent to AAC or as a result of a further audit.
A re-certification audit is conducted to evaluate the continued fulfilment of all of the requirements of the relevant management system standard every three years to confirm the continued conformity and effectiveness of the management system as a whole and its continued relevance and applicability for the scope of certification. A review of the company's performance during the preceding three-year period is also undertaken.
Recertification will involve additional fees to cover the costs of administration and may also require additional audit days over and above the number of days conducted during surveillance visits. The Client also agrees to meet any extra costs incurred where a further audit is required in order to verify that effective corrective action has been taken in order to close out identified non‐conformances.
Short Notice Audits
AAC may undertake unannounced audits in situations where initial evidence or a serious complaint has indicated concern over the validity of the certificate. The costs for such audits will not be charged to the client in the event that the outcome of the audit indicates that there are no fundamental failings in the integrity of the client’s management system.
It may also be necessary for AAC to conduct an audit at short notice to investigate complaints or in response to changes or to follow up on suspended clients. In such cases, AAC will make known to the Client the circumstances and conditions under which the requirement to conduct a short notice audit has been determined. The Client agrees to meet the extra costs relating to such audits.
Certificate Suspension, Withdrawal or Restoring Certification
See also the section on Appeals Procedure.
Following a successful audit of a Client's management system to the appropriate standards or specifications, the certificate may be suspended or withdrawn as follows:
Suspended for a short period due to:
(i) Continued misuse of certification marks and or AAC logos.
(ii) Failure to apply corrective action as a result of non‐conformances found during audits.
(iii) Failure to allow an audit to be conducted as detailed in the planning documentation i.e. annual surveillance audit.
(iv) Failure to pay an invoice within timescales specified in these Rules of Registration / certification.
(v) Breaches in legislation relevant to the scope of activities covered by Registration.
(vi) Any other breach of AAC’s Rules of Registration / certification.
Withdrawn due to the Client’s:
(i) Failure to respond to requests made by AAC after suspension of a certificate.
(ii) Failure of a Client to settle financial accounts.
(iii) Persistent breach of any of the Rules of Registration / certification.
(iv) Ceasing or threat to cease carrying on business, or proposed to compound with its creditors, application for an interim order under section 252 Insolvency Act 1986 or having a bankruptcy petition presented against it, entrance into voluntary or compulsory liquidation or having a receiver, administrator or administrative receiver appointed over all or any of its assets or taking or suffering any similar action in any jurisdiction.
(v) Appearance of being about to suffer all or any of the above; and/or
(vi) Request to withdraw.
Upon suspension or withdrawal of its certification, the Client undertakes to discontinue to claim certification with and remove all references to AAC and certification from all advertising matter AAC or other material that contains a reference to certification.
In the event that following withdrawal of certification the Client continues to claim certification then AAC maintains the right to report the Client to the relevant legal authority and to take appropriate legal action.
A fee will apply for reinstatement following suspension.
Certificates cannot be extended beyond the expiry date and if a certificate does expire the Client will be contacted and the consequences will be explained. Failure to complete the recertification audit or failure to provide close-out evidence could also result in the withdrawal of the certificate. Following withdrawal, the certificate can be restored if the Client re‐applies within the first 6 months of withdrawal, subject to technical review and completion of the recertification audit process. After 6 months the Client will need to re‐apply and at least be subject to a stage 2 audit. The stage 1 audit may be waived if a technical review confirms that no major changes have occurred since the last complete audit.
Cancellation of Registration
Clients wishing to cancel/withdraw from registration must notify AAC of their intention to do so within 2 months of the annual surveillance visit. Upon the cancellation of the Certificate (however determined), the Company shall forthwith discontinue the use of the AAC certification marks and all advertising literature that contains the AAC marks or any reference thereto. In addition, any other material or documents in the possession of the Company, which bear reference to the Certificate, shall be eradicated.
If in providing information or service neither AAC nor any of its servants or agents warrants the accuracy of any audit, review or information supplied. Except as stated in this document AAC nor any of its servants or agents shall not be liable for any loss, expense or damage howsoever sustained by any company, client or person due to any action whatsoever taken by AAC or its servants or agents save to the extent that any attempted exclusion of liability would be contrary to law.
The Client agrees to indemnify and keep indemnified AA Certification Limited against all and any losses, proceedings, lost profits, damages, awards, expenses, claims, costs (including increased administration costs on a full indemnity basis) actions and any other losses and/or liabilities due to the Clients misuse of any approval or Registration given to the Client by AAC under its Rules of Registration whilst the Client is registered with AAC (including during a period of suspension and following the withdrawal of Registration, cancellation of audit dates, misuse of intellectual property of AAC, breaches of impartiality clauses, providing false or misleading information during the audit process) and/or any breach where AAC suffers a loss.
Changes to Terms and Conditions
AAC reserves the right to change these rules for registration herewith without prior notification as required by the Directors of AAC. No such changes shall affect the right of any Registered Company to use the certification marks until it has been served with a notice in writing of such changes by AAC. AAC will notify the Registered Company of the date by which it must comply with the altered Terms and Conditions via the AAC website.
E-mail shall be an accepted means of communication.
Witnessed Audits by Accreditation and Authorised Bodies
It is a condition of the Rules of Registration that all AAC certificated Clients should if requested, allow representatives of accreditation bodies or other authorised bodies to witness AAC staff carrying out audits. Failure to allow this could jeopardise the Client’s Registration.
AAC will supply an appropriately qualified, competent and impartial Audit Team or individual Auditor to conduct the Audit in accordance with the Audit Plan or other arrangements made with the Client. In addition to auditors, the audit team may be supplemented by the inclusion of technical experts, translators or interpreters. The Client has the right to object to any individual Auditor or member of the Audit Team but must do so immediately upon notification of the individuals that comprise the Audit Team. AAC reserves the right to change the assigned Auditors or add additional Auditors to meet its operational requirements.
The Client does not have the right to require that a specified named individual auditor conducts a particular audit. In order to ensure that the Impartiality of an audit is maintained AAC will keep under review the number of audits, an individual auditor will conduct for a Client. It may be necessary therefore to change the auditor should AAC believe that Impartiality is threatened due to over-familiarity.
The audit team may at times be supplemented by trainees. Trainees will have no status at the audit and will be supervised by the Lead Auditor. The Client will not be charged for their attendance. AAC acknowledges that the attendance by trainees at audits is at the discretion of and with the permission of the Client. AAC will therefore notify the Client of an intention to send a trainee to an audit in advance and will also supply the name of the trainee. The Client has a right to refuse to accept a trainee; however, AAC would urge the Client to carefully consider the request as AAC has a requirement to fully train and develop its staff and the primary means of doing so is through attendance at audits.
Auditors supplied by AAC will act fairly and impartially and will reach a decision based solely on the evidence. The Client, in agreeing to the Rules of Registration / certification, also agrees that no pressure, intimidation or inducement will be offered to auditors designed to change or alter the decision made by the auditor or subsequently by AAC staff who review those decisions. AAC staff are instructed to immediately report any such instances to the most senior AAC member of staff available.
AA Certification Limited will treat all aspects of the assessment as ‘commercial in confidence' and any information/evidence outside of the public domain that is gained during the assessment will be used for the purpose of the assessment only. The assessor, or any observer present, agrees to treat as secret and confidential and not at any time, for any reason, to disclose or permit to be disclosed any information reviewed or seen during the assessment, other than for internal verification purposes in the process of granting, extending, suspending withdrawing or restoring certification.
Law and Jurisdiction
The registration process and the validity, construction and performance of these Regulations shall be governed by English law.