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University Advocate

Although the University Advocate is entitled to undertake investigations on his own initiative, the vast majority of investigations arise by way of a complaint made by an individual or organization.


Who may make a complaint?

Any individual or organization may make a complaint to the University Advocate: there is no requirement that the individual or organization making the complaint be a student, faculty or staff member of the University.

However, the University Advocate has limited jurisdiction and may only investigate complaints made against a member of the University Community as defined in the Code of Conduct. For the most part, the jurisdiction of the University Advocate is therefore limited to complaints made against students of the University.

On receipt of a complaint, the University Advocate will first establish whether or not he has jurisdiction. If he does not have jurisdiction he will refer the person or organization making the complaint to the appropriate authority within the University.

Ideally, complaints should be made expressly to the Office of the President of the University. A complainant will be asked to provide sufficient information to enable the Advocate to undertake an investigation. In particular, the information should contain the following:

  1. Identity of the student who is being complained.
    • Although a student ID number is ideal, identification can be made using simply the individual's name or other identifying information.
    • If you are unsure of the identity of the student, it may still be possible to ascertain their identity through a variety of mechanisms, but the more information you can supply the easier this will be.
  2. Brief description of the event/action in question.
    • You do not need to identify what part of the Code has been breached but the description should be sufficient to enable the Advocate to conduct a reasonable investigation.
    • You should clearly indicate time, date, location, other witnesses etc which will assist the Advocate in his investigations.
  3. Your name, address and contact number.

Armed with this information, there are a number of ways to make a complaint

  • Call: Jackie O'Shaughnessy on 061-202007
  • Write: Jackie O'Shaughnessy, Office of the President, Plassey House, University of Limerick, Limerick
  • Email: Jackie.OShaughnessy@ul.ie
  • Submit an official complaint by completing the relevant form below
  • You may be asked to complete this form even if you have made the complaint on the telephone or by email. The form often allows the Advocate to obtain focussed information necessary for the investigation.

Once a complaint has been made, it will be assessed by the Advocate and dealt with as deemed appropriate.
The complainant will be notified once the case is closed.

Internal Complaint Form

External Complaint Form

Following receipt of a complaint, or on the Advocate's own initiative, a file will be created. The Advocate will undertake such investigations and procure such evidence as he feels necessary to make a proper determination of the case.

Often this investigation will involve interviewing the person or organization who made the complaint, any potential witnesses, and a review of relevant documentary evidence.

The University Advocate will then review the file and may decide

  1. The facts do not disclose any violation of the Code of Conduct and close the file
  2. There is an arguable case that the Code has been violated.

In the event of the latter, the Advocate will usually, although is not required to, ask the person against whom a complaint has been received, to attend a meeting with him. The purpose of this meeting is to complete the investigation by hearing from all the sides involved.

Anyone who attends this meeting will be formally cautioned under the Code of Conduct (s.2.3) before it proceeds. No one is obliged to attend this meeting, and no adverse inference will be drawn from refusing to attend the meeting. However, the issue will almost inevitably then have to be forwarded to a full hearing of the Discipline Committee.

Meeting with the Advocate may clarify that no violation of the Code has occurred or may result in the matter being disposed of by way of a voluntary agreement with the Advocate which protects the interests of the University and is in accordance with the justice of the case.

If following this meeting the Advocate is of the opinion that the Code has been violated and that there is sufficient evidence to prove that before either the Minor Offences or Discipline Committee, the file will be listed for hearing unless a voluntary agreement has been entered into.

If a voluntary agreement is entered into between the University Advocate and the student, then the issue may, in certain circumstances be presented for mention to the Discipline Committee but the student will not be expected to appear at such a hearing.

Once a file is listed for hearing either by the Minor Offences Committee or the Discipline Committee, the Advocate will assume the role of prosecutor. The Advocate is tasked with presenting the University's case to the relevant committee with sufficient evidence to establish that there has been a breach of the Code. If the Advocate is successful, he shall be responsible for seeking a sanction which he considers appropriate to protect the interests of the University. If a sanction is imposed the Advocate is responsible for ensuring that it has been fully complied with.

If the verdict of either committee is appealed by the student, the Advocate is responsible for defending that appeal in the Appeals Committee, irrespective of whether the verdict at the Minor Offences or Discipline Committee was that which the Advocate originally sought.

It is not open to the Advocate to appeal from a decision of Discipline Committee.

The conduct of the disciplinary hearing is a matter for the relevant committee. The Advocate has no special position, place or relationship with either committee. As prosecutor, the Advocate is in exactly the same position of the defence. The Advocate is not present for deliberations of either committee.

If you require further information on the conduct of disciplinary hearings, please refer to the Discipline Committee information.