General FAQs on CB suspensions

Questions and Answers

1. What are the grounds for suspending Certification Bodies?

Certification Bodies may be suspended for a number of reasons. The SBP Framework Certification Body Approval Application Process, Version 1.0, May 2015, clause 10.1 states:

10.1 Any of the following reasons are considered grounds for suspension upon which the suspension process shall be immediately initiated:
10.1.1 Detection of a total breakdown of a system that constitutes a risk to the credibility of SBP;
10.1.2 Inability or unwillingness to comply with requests for information, reports, and records that SBP deems necessary to determine continued conformity of a CB with approval requirements;
10.1.3 Failure to comply with a request to undergo an SBP assessment; or
10.1.4 Failure to meet a requirement for approval, including reduction in scope or suspensions of a relevant accreditation by another accreditation body.

Further, SBP Work Instruction Document: Certification Body Approval Procedure SBP/WID/001, 20 July 2016, clause 5.2 states:

If a total breakdown of a system is detected that constitutes a risk to the credibility of SBP, SBP shall immediately initiate the suspension process. 

If a CB receives five (5) or more major NCs [non-conformities*] within one (1) assessment, SBP shall immediately initiate the suspension process.

* A non-conformity is a non-fulfilment of an SBP requirement, and it is classified as either minor or major. For example, amongst other things, a minor non-conformity may be a temporary lapse, or unusual/non-systematic, whereas a major non-conformity continues over a long period of time, is repeated or systematic. See SBP Work Instruction Document: Certification Body Approval Procedure SBP/WID/001, 20 July 2016, section5 Assessment findings.

2. What happens in the case of a suspension?

SBP will place a notification on its website in the News section detailing the grounds for suspension, the scope of the suspension and the effective date of the suspension. The information given on the relevant Certification Body on the ‘Getting certified’ and ‘Approved Certification Bodies’ pages will also be updated.

3. How long does a suspension last?

The suspension may be lifted when the Certification Body implements corrective action and demonstrates conformity, providing the other SBP requirements are still fully met. However, the period of suspension shall not exceed six months unless specifically authorised by the SBP Chief Executive Officer. Failure to remedy the cause/s of suspension within the specified time period shall lead to withdrawal of approval.

4. What happens to the biomass/pellet producers and/or traders that have already been issued with an SBP certificate by the suspended Certification Body?

The suspended Certification Body is obliged to maintain the provision of all relevant SBP certification services, that is, surveillance audits, to its existing Certificate Holders. Thereby ensuring that the certificate remains valid.

5. What about the suspended Certification Body’s clients that may in the middle of the certification process, do they just get abandoned?

When a Certification Body is suspended it must not take on any new clients or perform initial certification services.

Conduct of re-certification (every five years) and/or completion of initial certification services started prior to, or planned to be undertaken after, the effective date of suspension shall be subject to explicit written approval by the SBP Chief Executive Officer.

6. Should the market be concerned by suspensions of Certification Bodies?

No. The SBP certification system ensures that will be no adverse impact on the services provided to existing Certificate Holders. We anticipate that, if suspended, a Certification Body will work hard to get the suspension lifted.

It is only right that as a certification system, SBP is able to impose sanctions in cases where requirements are not met. In that way we are upholding the quality and credibility of our certification system.