SCL Ethics Group

SCL Ethics Group

In 2003, the Society of Construction Law set up a group to consider the question of ethics in the construction industry, prompted by a call by Professor John Uff (made in a lecture at King’s College in July 2003 and downloadable as a pdf file) for the Society to prepare a multi-disciplinary ethical code covering the activities of all professionals involved in construction law activities.

The working group considered the options for meeting the challenge set by Professor Uff, and made a number of recommendations.

The working group has now drafted the following statement of ethical principles, and prepared guidance on these principles.

Statement of Ethical Principles

Ethical conduct is the compliance with the following ethical principles.

  1. Honesty - act with honesty and avoid conduct likely to result, directly or indirectly, in the deception of others.
  2. Fairness - do not seek to obtain a benefit which arises directly or indirectly from the unfair treatment of other people.
  3. Fair reward - avoid acts which are likely to result in another party being deprived of a fair reward for their work.
  4. Reliability - maintain up to date skills and provide services only within your area of competence.
  5. Integrity - have regard for the interests of the public, particularly people who will make use of or obtain an interest in the project in the future.
  6. Objectivity - identify any potential conflicts of interest and disclose the conflict to any person who would be adversely affected by it.
  7. Accountability - provide information and warning of matters within your knowledge which are of potential detriment to others who may be adversely affected by them. Warning must be given in sufficient time to allow the taking of effective action to avoid detriment.

These principles apply to the work of all professionals working in the construction industry, whatever their original qualification or affiliation.

Guidance on ethical principles

Application of statement

The statement of ethical principles applies to persons as individuals, whether they work as an independent professional or as a partner, associate, director or employee of a firm or company.

Persons who work on behalf of a firm or company have additional responsibility to ensure that this statement of good practice is complied with by the firm or company to the extent of their authority.

Legal and other duties

The statement of good practice is in addition to any other professional code that may apply.

The statement of good practice is part of and additional to contractual and other duties taken on under civil law

The statement of good practice applies independently of any requirement imposed by or breach of criminal law.

Unethical conduct

Unethical conduct is the deliberate or reckless disregard for the ethical principles, as they would apply to the ordinary standards applicable to the activity being undertaken – the recognised practice in that profession.

Contributions are invited on these principles – either agreement or disagreement. Please let the working group have your views. Email your comments to ethics@scl.org.uk.

The group is now considering how to present guidance on the application of these principles, using practical examples. Contributions and thoughts for this next stage are also welcome.

Quoting the Statement of Ethical Principles
Provided that the Society's written permission is sought (email us), the Statement of Ethical Principles may be reproduced in articles, seminar notes etc. The source must be acknowledged and the website address, www.scl.org.uk, given.

SCL papers

In addition to the resources in this section, our published papers have their own dedicated section. The Society has published nearly 400 papers since 1984. Please feel free to browse them.

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