The Office of Communications (Ofcom) abides by these seven principles in each formal written consultation:
- Before publishing a consultation document, where possible, Ofcom will hold informal talks with people and organizations to determine whether its approach perspective is in line with current thinking on the issue. This may be done in the format of an open meeting if there is not enough time for individual talks.
- During the consultation period, Ofcom clearly specifies about what or whom it is consulting, why, on what questions and for how long the process will last.
- The consultation document will be as short and simple as possible with a summary of no more than two pages. If the consultation is complicated, Ofcom may provide a shortened version for smaller organizations or individuals who would otherwise not be able to spare the time to share their views.
- Pursuant to the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom must usually allow at least one month for consultation on issues related to electronic communications networks and services. However, usually 10 weeks is allowed for responses for complicated policy issues. Sometimes, the consultation period may be shortened if Ofcom needs to move urgently on a given issue or if the proposal under consultation has a limited effect on the market. Shorter consultations will usually last five weeks. In cases of disputes between businesses, the consultation period will last no more than 10 days.
- There will be one person within Ofcom who will be in charge of making sure that Ofcom is following its own guidelines and reaches out to the largest number of interested people and organizations. This person (called the consultation champion) will also be the main person to contact on consultation matters.
- If it is unable to follow any one of these principles, Ofcom will provide an explanation. If the 10 week response time needs to be reduced, Ofcom will let those concerned know beforehand that it is a “red flag consultation” requiring urgent attention.
- Each response will be looked at carefully and with an open mind. Ofcom will give reasons for its decisions. Except where confidentiality is requested, all responses will be published on Ofcom's website.
ENDNOTES How will Ofcom Consult? A guide to our consultation process