This page, aimed at Chief Adjudicators, deals with queries and complaints that relate to judging at the Championships.

Mid-tournament adjudicators’ briefingEdit

It may be helpful to schedule a formal briefing session for adjudicators after about four preliminary rounds, in order to address any questions or problems. Equally you may feel that this wouldn’t be justified – but if there are any contentious issues then judges may appreciate the opportunity to discuss them together.


There is now provision in the Rules for a formal method of complaints at the competition. Specifically, Rule 16A refers to complaints about a judge and the Code of Conduct regulates complaints in general.

The WSDC community welcomes transparency, and complaints should be taken seriously. The existence of the CAP ensures that advice can be easily sought and you can be supported by the consensus of several respected adjudicators.

There is, however, no precedent for overturning the results of debates. In fact, at its 2005 AGM the World Council specifically passed a resolution that no result of any debate shall be overturned and this is now specified in the Rules – see Rules 14(f) and 16A(h), for example. A coach may feel justifiably aggrieved if an adjudicator is felt not to have acted according to the Rules. This may affect your allocation of that judge to future debates. The chance of it affecting the result of a debate (a) is nil and (b) would require an extraordinary decision of the World Council to allow it. It’s not your responsibility to change the results of the tournament.

Most complaints can be dealt with informally, and most coaches will understand that informing you of their concerns about adjudicators (or, for example, the behaviour of other debaters or coaches) is all they can do. You may then choose to have a word with the other party or with other judges.

In the case of a more serious complaint, Rule 16A comes into play and requires a complaint to be made within 24 hours, either by a fellow judge on the same panel or in writing by the coach or team manager of the aggrieved team. This ensures that the complaint is taken seriously, that it is not made in the heat of the moment, and that the person behind it is prepared to put it on the record rather than (as often happens) spread gossip. You then need to decide whether it can be resolved without further investigation (Rule 16A(c)(i)) or you might decide you need to take it further. You should then discuss it with a CAP and decide on one or more of the actions set out in Rule 16A(c)(iii), always bearing in mind the need for fairness and due process which involves speaking to the judge against whom the complaint has been made before you make a decision.

If the matter is particularly serious, you may have to refer it to a Complaints Officer (Rule 16A(d)(i)(f)), at which point the complaints procedure thankfully leaves your hands and ultimately may have to be dealt with by the Complaints Committee in accordance with the Code of Conduct. That makes sense as your job is to regulate the debating side of the Championships; anything more serious should be dealt with by others who have been given that responsibility.

Remember, there are plenty of people on hand to offer good advice. Dealing with complaints can be one of the more unwelcome and time-consuming aspects of your job, so do make use of the resources available to you.

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