Our Members’ Code of Conduct

Introduction

In the Articles of Association of the Institute of Acoustics ("the Institute") there is a general requirement for members to be bound to further the aims of the Institute to the best of their abilities. The standing of the Institute is enhanced if its members are not only well qualified, but also have a professional commitment to a standard of excellence in their work and in their dealings with other people.

A Code of Conduct, designed to embody broad ethical principles, is necessarily drawn up in general terms. The Rules of Conduct indicate the manner in which members are required to conduct themselves in most situations. For situations not specifically encompassed by the Rules, the principle to be followed is that, in any conflict between a member's personal interests and those of the wider community, the latter should take precedence.

Code of Conduct - (13 September 2016 - Revised text in bold italics)

All members of the Institute shall at all times:

so order their conduct as to uphold the dignity and reputation of the profession and of the Institute and of its members and officers

safeguard the public interest in matters of safety, health and the environment

exercise their professional skill and judgement to the best of their ability

discharge their professional responsibilities with integrity, honesty and diligence

treat all persons fairly and with respect

Definitions

The definitions set out below apply throughout these rules.

For the purposes of these Rules:

'members' includes a member or members of any class referred to in the By-laws.

'employer' includes client.

'complainant' is the member or non-member originating the complaint.

'defendant' is the member against whom the complaint is made.

'Council' is the Council of the Institute of Acoustics.

'Officers' are the Honorary Officers as defined in the Articles of Association

A Rules of Conduct

For clarity, these Rules have been grouped into the principal duties which all members should endeavour to discharge in pursuing their professional lives.

A1. Professional competence and integrity

A1.1 Members shall avoid undertaking work which is beyond their capabilities. Therefore members shall undertake to:

upgrade their professional knowledge and skill and encourage others to do so;

maintain adequate awareness of technological developments, procedures, standards, laws and statutory regulations which are relevant to their field either by involvement in the Institute's Continuing Professional Development Scheme or by any other appropriate means.

A1.2 Members shall not knowingly act for a client for whom other members are acting in the same matter until either:

the first contract has been determined by the client; or

the member has sought an assurance from the client that the first member is aware of their involvement.

A1.3 Members shall not maliciously or recklessly injure or attempt to injure whether directly or indirectly the professional reputation of others, whether they are members or not.

A1.4 Members shall show proper regard for the sanctity of data. In particular members will:

not knowingly alter, manipulate, fabricate or misrepresent data.

ensure that primary data used in any publication or report are available in a form that would allow for independent scrutiny and that sufficient details of any experiments, by which the data were derived, are available to allow others to replicate such experiments.

A1.5 If members are co-authors rather than primary authors of reports and publications then they should establish and agree the extent of their professional responsibility for the validity of the work with the primary author.

A2. Public interest

A2.1 Members shall act in accordance with the principles of sustainability and not do anything, or permit anything under their authority to be done, of which the probable and involuntary consequences would, in their professional judgement

endanger human life or safety; or

expose valuable property to the risk of destruction or serious damage; or

needlessly pollute the environment except when legally authorised to do so.

A2.2 In their work, members shall respect all relevant laws and statutory regulations. However, the Institute is not competent to judge the legality of any action nor to resolve disputes concerning non-technical aspects of any contract.

A2.3 Members shall raise a concern about a danger, risk, malpractice or wrongdoing which affects others (‘blow the whistle’), and support a colleague or any other person to whom you have a duty of care who in good faith raises any such concern.

A2.4 Members shall notify the Institute if convicted of an indictable criminal offence or upon becoming bankrupt or disqualified as a Company Director.

A2.5 Members shall notify the Institute of any significant violation of the Institute’s Code of Conduct by another member.

 

A3. Duty to Employers and Clients

A3.1 When discharging their professional duties members shall:

satisfy themselves as to their scope, obtaining in advance any necessary clarification or confirmation, and shall not accept professional obligations which they believe they have not sufficient competence or authority to perform;

accept responsibility for all work carried out by them, or under their supervision or direction, and shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that persons working under their authority are competent to carry out the tasks assigned to them and that they accept responsibility for work done under the authority delegated to them;

give advice that is objective and, as far as practicable, reliable and take all reasonable steps to ensure that the person who over-rules or disregards their advice is aware of the possible consequences;

disclose to their client or employer any benefits or interests that they may have in any matter in which they are engaged on their behalf;

neither communicate to any person, nor publish any information or matter not previously known by them or published in the public domain, which has been communicated to them in confidence by a client or employer without the express authority of that client or employer;

not offer, give or receive any inducement (financial or otherwise) to or from a third party in return for the introduction of clients or professional assignments without making such action known to the client;

safeguard any funds or other resources managed for the benefit of any person and shall avoid any misrepresentation, whether financial or professional, of their own worth or that of their employer.

A4. Conflicts of interest

A4.1 Where a conflict arises or may arise between the members' own interests and those of any of their associates and the interests of a client, the members must:

disclose to the client as soon as practicable the possibility of the conflict;

inform the client that neither they personally nor their firm or company can act or continue to act for the client unless requested to do so having first advised the client to obtain independent professional advice; and confirm to the client in writing the above position.

Approved by Council 13 September 2016

How to complain if you believe a Member has breached our Code of Conduct

The Institute will investigate a complaint where it is alleged a member has breached our Code of Conduct. Such an investigation is strictly limited to whether or not our Code of Conduct has been breached. The IOA does not provide a mechanism or procedure for dispute resolution. For example, we will not comment on the rights and wrongs of a planning decision that has taken evidence from a member, nor provide a second opinion on a report. Complaints regarding a planning decision should be addressed to the Local Authority in question or the Local Authority Ombudsman. We will review a member’s work if it is alleged the member has broken the IOA’s Rules of Conduct; for example by working outside their professional competence or being clearly negligent in their preparation of technical documents. Such a review is limited to whether the member has breached our Code of Conduct and we will not comment on the further validity or otherwise of their work.

We are unable to investigate a complaint if it relates to ongoing or pending legal or planning matters such as determination of a planning application, planning appeal or litigation. We will only commence an investigation once all such actions related to the case have been completed.

If you wish to make a complaint against a member, we require the following information:

  • The name(s) of the member(s) you believe have breached our Code of Conduct.

  • How you believe they have breached our Code of Conduct together with the evidence to justify your assertion. (Do not, for example, simply send a copy of a report written by the member. You will need to highlight which of the Rules of Conduct have been broken in their work and why you believe they have breached the Code of Conduct,).

  • A statement from yourself that you are unaware of any ongoing or pending planning or legal action associated with the case.

  • Your permission to share your complaint with the member concerned so that they are able to make a statement in their defence.

Investigation Process

Once the IOA has the information required to conduct an investigation, the Chair of the Membership Committee, or appointed member(s), assess whether there is a case to answer. If it is concluded that there is no case to answer the complainant will be invited to accept this initial view. If the complainant does not accept that there is no case to answer the complaint may be reviewed again. In such cases it would be necessary for the complainant to provide appropriate additional information to warrant a further review.

If the initial view is that there is a case to answer it will be investigated as follows.

The complaint will be shared with the member(s) concerned and a period of 3 weeks given to prepare a statement in response.

A panel of 3 members of the IOA Membership Committee will then review the complaint and the response, along with the evidence provided. The panel will then assess whether or not our Code of Conduct has been breached and decide upon action to be taken.

The panel’s decision will be given to both parties.

Either party has the right to appeal the decision.

An appeal would only be accepted if it is demonstrated that there is additional significant and relevant information or if either party can provide a strong argument to warrant further investigation.

In the event of an appeal being granted the case will be referred to IOA Council. Should Council consider that further investigation is warranted, the complaint will be reviewed again by a new panel (Tribunal). The Tribunal will comprise of 3 members of the Membership Committee who do not have prior knowledge of the case. The Tribunal will then make a recommendation to the IOA Council who will make a final ruling on the case.

Council’s final ruling would then be conveyed to both parties and no further appeals would be considered.

Note from the Membership Committee: Please note that the members of the IOA who are tasked with reviewing complaints are experienced within the industry who allocate their time to this process alongside their own professional responsibilities, most of whom are working. We ask that you are patient and recognise that investigations can take time. We also ask that you are sure that your complaint is justified with valid evidence and not just a difference of opinion. Although we will review a reasonable amount of evidence submitted with the case, excessive or superfluous information will only hinder the investigation and obfuscate matters.