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IPS - CILEx Members Code of Conduct

 

Membership of CILEx carries both privileges and responsibilities. It requires you to:

  • develop and use your professional knowledge and skills for the benefit of those who use your professional services.
  • maintain good professional relationships with others.
  • act in a way that promotes confidence and trust in the legal professions.

This Code of Conduct has been drawn up by IPS, the regulatory body for CILEx members. It sets out the principles you must follow as an CILEx member. It is our core guidance on the conduct, practice and professional performance expected of you.

The following nine principles are intended to guide and support you in the work you do and the decisions you make. They also inform the general public of the standards of behaviour that can be expected of CILEx members: the public interest must be at the forefront.

You must at all times ensure public confidence in you and your profession. You must also ensure that you avoid engaging in action unbefitting to CILEx or likely to bring disrepute upon you or CILEx.

These are the nine principles. You must:

  1. Uphold the rule of law and the impartial administration of justice
  2. Maintain high standards of professional and personal conduct
  3. Behave with honesty and integrity
  4. Comply with the CILEx and IPS rules and bye-laws
  5. Act in the best interests of your client
  6. Treat everyone equally and fairly
  7. Ensure your independence is not compromised
  8. Respect confidentiality and trust
  9. Act within your competence


These principles, and the supporting explanations below, encapsulate what it means to be a member of CILEx. Making this part of your professional life will help you maintain your professionalism and will underpin public confidence in you and your profession.

Status of the Code of Conduct

You must comply with this Code wherever it applies to you. Your professional and personal conduct will be judged against it, and a breach may lead to action under the Investigation, Disciplinary and Appeal Rules. Compliance with the Code will be taken into account in considering information which raises a question about a member. The supporting explanations are not however exhaustive and are not limited solely to the matters mentioned in the Code.

You must:

1.         Uphold the rule of law and the impartial administration of justice

You must uphold the constitutional principle of the rule of law. You must act lawfully and must not knowingly breach the law. You must be familiar with and comply with the law as it applies to you.

You have a duty to uphold the impartial administration of justice. You also have a duty to act in the best interests of your client. However, your primary and overriding duty is to the courts. You must not knowingly allow the court to be misled. You must obey court orders and do nothing which would place you in contempt of court.

2.         Maintain high standards of professional and personal conduct

High standards are expected of you in both your professional and personal life. You must not engage in any conduct that could affect or undermine the confidence placed in you and your profession by your client, other members of the legal profession and the public.

Personal conduct that may affect or undermine the confidence placed in you includes criminal convictions, breaches of the law, financial misconduct, dishonesty and any other behaviour deemed by IPS to bring disrepute upon yourself or CILEx.

3.         Behave with honesty and integrity

You must be honest in all your dealings. You must maintain your integrity and uphold the respect and confidence placed in you and your profession by your client, the courts, the public, colleagues, employers and others. You must not wilfully mislead your client or anyone else you deal with.

You must deal honestly in financial matters, particularly with regard to transactions affecting office and client accounts and money which belongs to others.

4.         Comply with the CILEx and IPS rules and bye-laws

You must comply with all the CILEx and IPS rules and bye-laws which apply to you. These include the Memorandum and Articles of Association, membership and examination bye-laws, rules and regulations, codes of conduct and the complaints handling rules. You must ensure that you are familiar with the rules and bye-laws relevant to you and keep your knowledge of them up to date. You must also co-operate with CILEx and IPS.

You must not register in a grade of membership to which you do not belong. You must not claim to be a non-practising member when you do not meet the criteria for that grade of membership.

5.         Act in the best interests of your client

Except where they conflict with your duty to the court, your client's interests are paramount and you must act in their best interests. The work you undertake for your client must always be to a proper standard.

You must provide clear advice to your client and act on their instructions except when to do so would involve a breach of the law.

You must have in place good client care and communication procedures. You must provide clear and accurate information and advice. You must ensure your client understands your professional status, advise them openly and honestly and keep them up to date with the information they need about their case or transaction. You must inform them fully and honestly about details of costs and complaints procedures.

You must keep contemporaneous records of matters such as communications with clients, professional colleagues and others.

You must maintain proper standards of work and keep accurate records.

6.         Treat everyone equally and fairly

You must treat everyone equally and fairly regardless of their age, gender, disability, race, colour, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, marital or family status, religion, belief or perceived social status. You owe this duty to clients, colleagues, employers, third parties including the other party in a transaction, and anyone else with whom you may have dealings.

7.         Ensure your independence is not compromised

You must ensure that your independence is not compromised and that you remain impartial in all your dealings. Independence may be compromised in a variety of ways, including conflicts with a client, external pressure and financial interest in a client's matter. Members working in a business structure that includes a range of professions need to be particularly aware of the conflicts that could arise.

You must not act where there is a conflict of interest or a significant risk that a conflict may arise. This can include conflicts between:

  • you and a client
  • two or more clients for whom you act
  • a client and your employer or colleagues

a client and the commercial, financial or political interests of your employer.

There are some instances where you may act in a situation where a conflict would otherwise arise – for example, where two or more clients agree in writing to your acting for each of them and you can separate the duties you owe to each.

You should act for a client only where you are satisfied that there is no risk that they are providing instructions under duress or undue influence. You must also confirm with your client instructions given by a third party to ensure they are your client's own instructions.

You must ensure that no financial arrangements you have in place can affect the independence of your advice or your ability to act impartially. This includes any introduction and referral arrangements you have in place.

8.         Respect confidentiality and trust

You must respect the trust placed in you and your profession by your client, the public, employers and colleagues. You must act with probity, honesty and trustworthiness and must not engage in any conduct that may undermine that confidence or trust.

You must keep the affairs of your client confidential. You may disclose information only to those entitled to receive it or to whom you have been authorised to disclose it. You must use information only for the purpose it was intended.

In certain rare circumstances the law or other provisions may require or authorise you to make disclosures, such as to prevent the commission of a serious criminal offence.

You have a duty to ensure the safety and security of electronic and paper documents in your possession. They must be stored safely and disclosed only to those entitled to receive them.

9.         Act within your competence

You must act only on matters that are within your competence. These are cases or transactions where you have the knowledge, skills and experience to undertake the work. If you are not competent to act you must decline to do so.

­It is your personal responsibility to keep your professional skills and knowledge up to date by undertaking relevant training and complying with our Continuing Professional Development regulations.

You must not act for a client in an area of law where you have insufficient knowledge or experience. Neither may you act in a matter where you do not have the right to act, for example, where you are not authorised to provide legal services. This does not prevent you from working in a structured environment on aspects of the law where you are developing your knowledge and skills.

You must not hold yourself out as having a qualification that you do not. This includes holding yourself out as a Chartered Legal Executive when you have not qualified as a Fellow of CILEx.

You must ensure you properly supervise tasks that you have delegated to others, recognising that you remain accountable for work which you have delegated to someone else.

Other Codes

If you are also regulated by or a member of another professional organisation, as well as IPS, you must also comply with Codes of Conduct, rules and regulations, however described, which apply to you.

 

Further help and guidance

If you are unsure about how this Code applies to you contact IPS on 01234 845770 or info@ilexstandards.org.uk

Alternatively visit the IPS website.