British Board of Film Classification

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Reconsideration requests and appeals

The BBFC offers a formal ‘reconsideration’ procedure which is open to any distributor dissatisfied with the classification of their work (see ‘Stage One’ below). The reconsideration is free of charge and will normally take less than 10 working days.

Distributors should note that a reconsideration or an appeal involves looking at the issues afresh. This means that the outcome could, in some circumstances, be more restrictive than the original determination.

Stage One: Request for reconsideration by the BBFC

All requests must be made by email to: reconsiderationrequests@bbfc.co.uk

Provided the conditions set out below are met, a request for reconsideration may be made in respect of:

  1. the category awarded;
  2. any cuts or alterations required as condition of classification at a particular category (cuts for category); or
  3. any cuts or alterations required regardless of category (compulsory cuts).

A company wishing to appeal against a decision to reject their work should proceed directly to Stage Two.

A reconsideration of the category awarded can be made up to 42 calendar days after receiving the BBFC's classification decision.

After this period the decision can only be revisited by means of making a fresh submission, with normal tariff fees applying. Requests to reconsider cuts must be made within 42 calendar days of receipt of the cuts list.

On receipt of a written request for reconsideration, the BBFC will ensure that the work, or the relevant parts of the work, are viewed by a Senior Examiner, the Assistant Director, Policy and Public Affairs (or, if unavailable, the Chief Assistant (Policy)), and the Director. The outcome of the reconsideration will be communicated to the submitting company within 10 working days (subject to print availability in the case of film works), provided there is no need to seek views from legal and/or other external advisers, in which case such views will be sought and considered as soon as is reasonably practicable.

If a reconsideration results in a different outcome, the submitting company may be required to return paperwork previously issued by the BBFC before new paperwork can be issued.

Reconsideration decisions are final. A submitting company wishing to pursue the matter further must make use of the procedures set out in Stage Two.

Stage Two: Appeal to an independent authority

A submitting company which is dissatisfied with the outcome of a Stage One reconsideration by the BBFC, or whose work has been rejected, may appeal to an independent authority.

Video (physical media)

If the work is being classified under the Video Recordings Act 1984 then the appeal may be made to the Video Appeals Committee (VAC), which was established by the BBFC under the provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984. A distributor has 42 calendar days from the date of receiving notice of the BBFC’s determination (whether by means of the Interim Clearance Form (ICF) or otherwise in writing, including via the extranet) in which to lodge an appeal. An appeal must be lodged with the VAC directly at the following address:-

The Secretary
The Video Appeals Committee
3 Soho Square
London
W1D 3HD

Details of the VAC’s procedures and requirements are available below. An appeal fee of £5000 is payable, which is refundable in the event of a successful appeal. A copy of the work must be submitted to the VAC together with the initial request for appeal and the relevant payment. Once an appeal has been lodged, the distributor should not return the ICF to the BBFC. If the work has been classified (ie the distributor has accepted the category on the BBFC extranet or signed and returned an ICF and received a certificate), no appeal may be heard.

The VAC provisions are available for download below.

Video (digital/online/VOD)

If a customer is dissatisfied with the category offered for a work it may, within 42 days of receipt of the offer, ask the BBFC to reconsider its decision under the BBFC’s reconsideration policy. Appeals under the Video Appeals Committee Provisions 1985 are not available for Digital Only Classifications.

Theatrical

If the work is a theatrical release being classified under the Licensing Act 2003 then the appeal may be made to the local authority (or authorities) in whose area(s) the work is to be shown.

As a result of their role in licensing all public cinemas within their area, local authorities retain the right to vary a BBFC classification decision, by raising or lowering the category, by waiving cuts, by requiring additional cuts, by permitting the showing of a film rejected by the BBFC or by forbidding the showing of a film classified by the BBFC.

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