The SCL Ethics Working Group concluded that:
- there is a need for action;
- the Society, consistent with its objective 'to promote the study and understanding of construction law", should publish guidance on ethical issues in the construction industry to promote discussion and debate and increase awareness and understanding; and
- regulation and the imposition of sanctions of the kind suggested by Professor John Uff was not something that the Society should be considering for the time being.
The group made the following recommendations:
- the Society prepare and issue a statement on ethical issues, or code of good practice, setting out core principles of ethical conduct and giving guidance on the application of these principles in each area of construction law. The objective of the statement is to:
- increase awareness,
- inform and guide (that is, influence) construction law professionals, and
- provide a standard against which others may review compliance;
- the Society establish a working group to implement the recommendations and keep their effects under review;
- an SCL ethics "champion" be appointed from Council to lead this work and act as a focus for other organisations;
- the Society should not, at present, engage in regulation or the imposition of sanctions.
The Council of the Society accepted these recommendations, and work has now started on their implementation.
Continuing work of the group
A new working group has been established under the chairmanship of Peter Higgins, a member of Council. The group aims to draft a statement that sets out the principles of ethical conduct, gives guidance on the application of these principles, and illustrates them by examples of unethical conduct.
The Society intends to work in conjunction with professional bodies and others in the industry who are pursuing allied initiatives. It is hoped that the Society can produce multi-disciplinary ethical principles that could be applied by all professional and other organisations to their work in the construction law field.
Members of the group can find a copy of the Report made to Council in July 2004 on the group's home page.
SCL Statement of Ethical Principles (2006)
Ethical conduct is the compliance with the following ethical principles.
Honesty – act with honesty and avoid conduct likely to result, directly or indirectly, in the deception of others.
Fairness – do not seek to obtain a benefit which arises directly or indirectly from the unfair treatment of other people.
Fair reward – avoid acts which are likely to result in another party being deprived of a fair reward for their work.
Reliability – maintain up to date skills and provide services only within your area of competence.
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.
Objectivity – identify any potential conflicts of interest and disclose the conflict to any person who would be adversely affected by it.
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.