Original publish date – Fri, 13 Aug 2010 06:51:05 +0000, Keith

The scenario: An agency has applied to SANAS but not yet received it pre-assessment letter. The agency produced a certificate for their client on 1st June 2010.
Is it valid?
Points to consider:
1) The minister’s notices states that a valid certificate is one that is produced by an accredited agency or one that has a valid pre-assessment letter. The term “valid pre-assessment letter” is crucial. SANAS performs a pre-assessment visit to the agency and if it achieves minimum standards with its management system, SANAS will issue a pre-assessment letter. A pre-assessment letter is not the same letter that SANAS may send as an acknowledgment or acceptance that the agency has applied to be a verification agency.

2) The agency began its work with its client before its pre-asessment letter was issued, and to date, August has still not received its pre-assessment letter. It may have had reason to believe that it would receive its pre-assessment letter during the verification process.

Is the certificate they issued valid? Following the strict guidelines of the minister’s notice the answer is NO. At the exact date if issue of the certificate, it had no valid pre-assessment letter.

If the agency obtains its pre-assessment letter later this year, the inclination is to accept the certificate because the agency has subsequently received its pre-assessment letter. However all pre-assessment letters carry an inception or start date as well as an expiry date. Had there been a gap of a couple of days before receiving its pre-assessment letter, we could have believed in the interests of substance of form that the certificate is valid.

Conclusion: In our opinion the certificate is not valid.