Code of Conduct
Our Code of Conduct has been reviewed in order to bring it in line with our status as a Chartered body 02/11/15.
Last Updated at AGM 4 September 2012.
1. This Code of Professional Conduct (The Code) is intended to assist Members by defining conduct which could lead to suspension or loss of Membership of the Institute under its Charter and Regulations.
We will not accept into Membership any person who immediately on becoming a Member would breach any of the conditions of the Code of Professional Conduct and could lead to their suspension or loss of Membership.
2. Definitions: For the purposes of the Code:
'Member' shall have the meaning as defined in the Membership Regulations. All terms and expressions used shall have the meaning assigned to them by the Charter and Regulations.
'Misconduct' shall include any action that is contrary to the professional standards expected of a Member, such as honesty, integrity, competence, respect for people's rights, social responsibility and particularly making any unjustified statement that may reflect on the character or integrity of others.
'Professional matter' shall include anything done in connection with a Member's work, employment or Institute role.
3. The Code shall be binding on all Members. Members shall signify that they subscribe to the Code by signing the Membership application form.
4. The Code may be amended from time to time by the approval of the Membership at an Annual General Meeting by a simple majority of those present.
5. The aims and the objectives of the Institute as set out in the Charter and Regulations, the Code of Professional Conduct, together with any other agreed policy document shall be supported and promoted by the conduct of every Member.
6. Copies of all relevant documents will be brought to the attention of new Members at the time of joining and a current copy of each will be posted on the Institute's website and will be made available by electronic mail if requested.
7. Each Member owes their first duty of allegiance in all individual professional matters to their employer - or themselves if self employed - and should fulfil that duty to the highest professional standards.
8. If a conflict arises between the requirements of an employer and the aims and objectives of the Institute, the Member shall notify the Company Secretary, in writing, of the grounds of such conflict. The Company Secretary may refer that conflict to the Professional Conduct Committee for advice and possible arbitration.
9. A Member shall bring to the attention of their employer, through their Head of Service or senior manager, the implications or effect of any trading standards matter which they know, or which they have reason to believe, will adversely affect either their responsibilities, duties or other interests of their employer.
10. A Member shall not do anything which would be considered to be misconduct or which could bring the Institute or its Members into disrepute on any professional matter or which could be detrimental to the aims and objectives or good standing of the Institute. Nor shall they by failing to act themselves or by failing to report the actions of other Members allow or condone misconduct or a failure to uphold those same aims, objectives or good standing of the Institute.
11. A Member shall inform the Company Secretary of any impending civil or criminal proceedings or action involving themselves or any other member that may bring their character or professional standing into question.
12. A Member shall not represent or purport to represent the Institute or knowingly permit themselves to be so represented unless authorised to do so and in particular shall ensure that where they are representing another organisation or body on trading standards matters that other body is clearly identified. It should be recognised that when dealing with the media extra care should be taken to ensure that correct titles and organisations are quoted.
13. A Member shall be conscious of the confidential and personal nature of information which they receive both in discharging their duties and as a Member of the Institute. They shall at all times protect the confidential and personal nature of such information, whether or not such protection is provided by statute, and shall not use that information for any unjustifiable purpose.
14. Subject to any constraints of this Code, a Member shall make all reasonable efforts to assist fellow Members, and wherever possible within legal limitations, shall share information and expertise which may be of assistance in the proper performance of their statutory duties, or which will best serve the objectives and interests of the Institute.
15. Subject to the constraints of this Code, it shall be the duty of every Member to inform the Company Secretary of the Institute of any matters affecting or likely to affect the Institute where that Member believes the information may not be known to that officer.
16. Where a Member is employed by a public authority they shall avoid any action which may prejudice the acceptance of their impartial advice and shall uphold the law relating to their duties so that at no time shall their integrity be questioned. In particular, a Member should not accept any preferential loans, gratuities or other benefits from commercial undertakings, which could appear to place them in the debt of that undertaking and which could be held to have been offered solely as a result of their professional position.
17. A Member employed by a public authority shall not enter into contracts, engagements or activities which could cast doubt on their impartiality or integrity. In particular, where they or their immediate family have a direct or indirect financial interest in any commercial activities with which they may come into contact in the course of their official duties any such interest should be brought to the attention of their Head of Service or senior manager.
Where the Member of their immediate family is a shareholder in a limited company with which the Member may come into contact during their official duties, such shareholding need not be disclosed under this paragraph if it totals less than one per cent of the shares issued and the shareholder takes no active interest in the running of the company.
18. A Member shall act courteously to all other Members and in particular Members employed by public authorities shall endeavour, at the earliest possible time, to advise other such Members of actions contemplated or taken which may directly affect the duties or interests of those Members. In particular enforcement matters concerning specific commercial undertakings should be only be pursued in line with Primary Authority principles or discussed with a representative of the Home Authority at the earliest opportunity.
19. Where a Member is not employed in a public authority they should in particular:
a. Ensure that their Membership is not used to endorse any commercial or business activity by themselves or others or to obtain any commercial advantage.
b. Ensure that their Membership of the Institute is not used or permitted to be used in such a way that they appear to have an advantageous relationship with Members of the Institute who are so employed.
c. Ensure that any privileges, information or benefits direct or indirect which they receive from their Membership of the Institute are not used or permitted to be used in such a way as to bring the Institute into disrepute or to otherwise prejudice the Institute, its affairs or its Members.
d. Recognise any likely conflict between their employment and their obligations both to the Institute and their fellow Members and to bring any such conflict to the attention of the Company Secretary in writing as soon as it becomes apparent, in accordance with our Charter and Regulations.
e. Declare an interest at any meeting of the Institute Members where the interests of their employment are relevant to matters under consideration.
f. Ensure that they attempt at all times to avoid any action or inaction which is prejudicial to the Institute or any of its Members.
20. Where a Member is self-employed, employment for the purposes of the Code includes employment by any commercial undertaking to whom they may offer their professional services.
21. Where a Member is a corporate affiliate Member, that corporate affiliate organisation or any person representing that corporate affiliate shall, in particular:
a. Ensure that any special conditions of that Membership are complied with at all times; and
b. Recognise that failure of individuals within the Body Corporate to meet the requirements of this Code so far as they apply could lead to suspension or termination of that corporate affiliate Membership.
22. Members shall uphold the following professional values:
a. To uphold the principles of fair trading in the community generally by ensuring uniform compliance with trading standards legislation so as to best serve the interests of consumers and traders alike, particularly by reference to the Primary Authority and Home Authority Principles.
b. To provide fair, unbiased and competent advice to other Members, colleagues, employers, members of the public, individual traders and trade organisations.
c. To pursue the discovery of fraudulent and other unfair trade practices and to use all legal means available to discredit and stop them.
d. To pursue the discovery of goods and practices which are prejudicial to the safety and welfare of consumers and fair traders and to use every proper means to seek to prevent their use in trade.
e. To encourage good practice within the profession and to promote the use of quality assured standards within the profession and within trade by the exchange of information and expertise.
f. To keep up to date with legal, economic and technological change both in the UK and in Europe and to ensure that modern trade practices are balanced by the most appropriate and effective enforcement techniques.
g. To ensure that consistent professional standards are applied impartially, and where any matter falls within the jurisdiction or responsibility of more than one enforcement agency, to consult with those enforcement agencies at the earliest appropriate opportunity.
h. Where any individual or corporate body is subject to enforcement action by a Member, they shall do everything that is within their control to ensure that the matter shall be actively pursued to a speedy decision within the constraints of fairness and the rights of the individual whilst, at the same time, maintaining professional standards.
Professional Conduct Committee
23. The Professional Conduct Committee (hereafter called the PCC) may consider any instances of conduct by Members of the Institute, which it believes may have disregarded or breached the requirements of this Code or any other agreed policy documents. In particular this includes matters drawn to its attention by the Council of the Institute or the Executive Board or by any of the Institute's Branches or Sections or an individual Member or any person outside the Institute. This should be done in writing, to the Company Secretary and should be supported by appropriate evidence.
24. The Company Secretary shall make preliminary enquiries, and if appropriate in consultation with the Chair or Chief Executive, to ensure that there is a bona fide breach of the Code before referral to the PCC. If not the complainant shall be advised in writing or by electronic communication within 15 working days that the complaint will not be submitted to the PCC. The brief details of all such enquires will be reported to Council at their next meeting.
25. The PCC after making suitable enquiries may decide not to investigate any such referral or complaint if it decides that there is insufficient evidence of professional misconduct to warrant further enquiry or if the matter is considered trivial or is an employment issue or it is more appropriate to be dealt with under another procedure. The complainant shall be informed of this decision by written or electronic communication within 15 working days of the decision of the PCC.
26. Any decision to not investigate a referral may be the subject of an appeal to the Appeal Committee
27. The PCC may also consider matters of conflict referred to it about any dispute between an employer and the aims and objectives of this Institute and may issue whatever instructions or advice it considers appropriate.
28. Any decision or advice of the PCC may be the subject of an appeal to the Appeal Committee.
29. The PCC shall comprise of three disinterested members of Council as selected by the Chair or Vice Chair.
The Company Secretary shall act as secretary of the PCC.
The PCC shall elect one of their number as a Chair who will also be the presenting officer should the matter be appealed to the Appeal Committee.
30. Any Member whose conduct is investigated by the PCC shall be sent written notice of that investigation by Recorded Delivery letter or electronic communication together with details of the allegation of misconduct within 15 working days of receipt. The Member will be given 30 working days in which to submit a written response by post or electronic mail and state whether or not they wish their written submission to be considered alone or to appear in person to put their case or to appear with a representative to speak on their behalf at a hearing before the PCC. The PCC may make such other enquiries as it considers appropriate and may ask the Member under enquiry for any explanation or other point of clarification that it may require. The PCC will then give the Member 14 days notice in writing of the time and venue of the hearing.
31. All procedures connected with or leading to the possibility of disciplinary action or in connection with an appeal shall be private and confidential and enquires made by the PCC or Company Secretary of other Members shall be so treated.
32. The committee shall arrive at its decision, which shall be by majority vote on the basis of the evidence it obtains and the verbal or written submission of the Member under investigation. The decision of the committee shall be sent to the Member by recorded delivery within 15 working days. In the absence of an appeal, the decision and reasons for suspension or expulsion shall be notified to Council and such other interested parties as the PCC consider appropriate. Proceedings may be reported in the official journal of the Institute provided all appeal procedures have been exhausted and provided that, in any case found to be 'not proven', the Member's name shall not be published.
33. Where an allegation of misconduct is found to be proven, the Committee may, subject to appeal, consider whether:
a. To suspend the Member from Membership of the Institute including any Branch or any section of the Institute for a period not exceeding two years; or
b. To expel them from the Institute.
During such suspension, the Member will forfeit all rights and privileges and will not be required to pay any subscriptions other than their current annual subscription but will be expected to pay back any outstanding subscription when Membership is reinstated.
34. A Member aggrieved by a decision of the PCC may exercise the right of appeal. Such appeal shall be made to the Appeal Committee. Such appeal shall be made in writing and sent to the Company Secretary and addressed to the registered office of the Institute. Notice of appeal must be made within thirty working days of the date of the notification of the PCC's decision. If no appeal is lodged within the time limit, such decision shall be reported to the Council of the Institute and others as set out in paragraph 32 above.
35. The Appeal Committee shall comprise any three of the following; Chair, Vice Chair, Immediate Past Chair of the Institute, Chair of the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive. One Member shall be elected as Chair. The Appeal Committee may take appropriate legal advice before commencing any Appeal. A decision of the Appeal Committee shall be final.
36. Appeals before the Appeal Committee will take the following form:
a. The Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) shall be the Presenting Officer and will put the case in the presence of the Member in question and their representative, if any. The Presenting Officer will be permitted to call witnesses and produce relevant documents.
b. The Member or their representative may ask questions of any witness on the evidence presented.
c. The Member or their representative may then put their case to the Appeal Committee. They will be permitted to call witnesses and produce relevant documents.
d. The Presenting Officer of the PCC may ask questions of the Member or their representative on the evidence given and of any witnesses called.
e. The Presenting Officer of the PCC, followed by the Member or their representative will sum up their respective cases.
f. The Chair of the Appeal Committee will ask those concerned in the hearing to leave the room. The Committee will deliberate in private and only recall either party or their representative to clarify points of uncertainty on evidence already given. If recall is necessary both parties shall return notwithstanding only one may be concerned with the point giving rise to doubt.
g. The decision of the Appeal Committee will be made as soon as possible and the decision confirmed in writing to the Member and the Presenting Officer immediately thereafter.
h. No costs shall be awarded to either party.
i. Decisions shall be reported to the Council of the Institute and in the official journal of the Institute provided that in any case that has been held to be 'not proven' the Members name shall not be published.
j. The decision of the Appeal Committee shall be final.