Conduct guidance for all members

Behaviour and Conduct Policy

There are many aspects of belonging to a professional body that fall outside the scope of IPReg’s regulatory role. Furthermore, some of CIPA’s membership communities, such as Students and Paralegals, are not individually regulated by IPReg but are still important members of CIPA. CIPA, therefore, created a policy that focused on the behaviour and conduct befitting membership of a professional institute. The policy underlines that CIPA is an inclusive institute, which expects members to always treat people with dignity and respect.
This policy sets out how CIPA expects its Members to behave and conduct themselves and how this policy will be implemented in the event of a complaint being made. First published and updated on 1 November 2023.

1.       Standards of behaviour and conduct

1.1.    CIPA is governed by its Charter and Bye-laws, as approved by the Privy Council. Members are expected to familiarise themselves with the Charter and Bye-laws and the obligations of membership therein. Members are expected to display the behaviour and conduct befitting membership of a professional institute. CIPA is an inclusive professional institute and expects its Members to treat people with dignity and respect at all times. All Members must respect the rights of people to be treated equally, regardless of age, gender or gender identity, sexual identity, ability or disability, race or ethnicity, cultural background, socioeconomic background or religious or spiritual beliefs.

1.2.    CIPA will not tolerate behaviour from Members which falls short of its expected standards of behaviour and conduct. All Members have the right to challenge poor behaviour or conduct, so long as this is done in a courteous manner and is not likely to lead to a situation escalating. Any person, Member or non-Member, who experiences poor behaviour or conduct by a CIPA Member should report the incident to CIPA’s Chief Executive.

2.       Scope and applicability

2.1.    This policy has been approved by Council under Bye-law 18.2 (b), which gives Council the power to make Rules, not inconsistent with the Charter and Bye-laws, to promote the objects and good management of the Institute, including Rules for the conduct of Meetings of Council and Rules setting standards of behaviour to be observed by Members.

2.2.    This policy does not set standards of competence or professional practice. Fellows who are Registered Patent Attorneys are regulated by the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg). Fellows and other Members who are European Patent Attorneys are regulated by the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office (epi). Members in other membership grades may have their practice regulated by other regulatory bodies or, in the case of IP Paralegal Members, through standards of competence or professional practice put in place by CIPA.

2.3.    This policy applies to all Members of CIPA when engaged in membership activities including but not limited to:

2.3.1.   attending meetings, seminars, conferences, and social events;

2.3.2.   membership of any committee or group established by Council;

2.3.3.   election as a member of Council;

2.3.4.   election as an Officer of CIPA;

2.3.5.   representing CIPA in any capacity, at meetings or events arranged by CIPA or in the conduct of CIPA’s external affairs;

2.3.6.   maintaining effective relationships with Members and with other persons within the purview of membership such as the staff of CIPA and external stakeholders;

2.3.7.   engaging in student membership activities such as attending lectures or study groups, conferences, social events, and events organised by the Informals.

2.3.8.   working towards and taking examinations, including all preparation and communication with the examination board, examiners, invigilators and others involved in the setting, marking and moderation of examinations.

2.4.    Members are expected to exhibit behaviour and conduct befitting membership of a professional body, including but not limited to:

2.4.1.   complying with all requirements laid down by Council for applying for and maintaining membership of CIPA;

2.4.2.   complying with the Charter and Bye-laws and adhering to any rules of membership made by Council;

2.4.3.   acting in a courteous manner and refraining from the use of offensive or threatening language or behaviour, in person and online;

2.4.4.   acting in a way that encourages equity, diversity and inclusion in and by the membership and respecting the rights of others to be treated equally;

2.4.5.   demonstrating conduct of a safe nature and complying with all health and safety rules pertaining to membership activities;

2.4.6.   having due regard for CIPA’s equipment or property, or equipment or property used by CIPA for meetings or events;

2.4.7.   carrying out any reasonable instructions issued by CIPA Council or staff.

3.       Invocation

3.1.    Where a complaint relates to professional practice, that complaint shall be dealt with in the first instance by the relevant regulatory body. A complaint dealt with by a regulatory body may give rise to concerns about the behaviour or conduct of a Member. Such cases will be dealt with under this policy after the conclusion of the regulatory body’s investigation and the publication of its findings. Where a regulatory body finds that there is no case to answer in relation to professional practice, CIPA may choose to investigate the matter under this policy if it is felt that a Member has fallen short of the expected behaviour or conduct of Members.

3.2.    Where a complaint relates to both professional practice and behaviour or conduct as a Member, Council shall decide whether to defer its investigation of the behaviour or conduct of the Member until after the outcome of the regulatory body’s investigation or to deal with the matter in parallel with the regulatory body’s investigation. Where Council defers its investigation until after a regulatory body’s investigation, it may decide to suspend a Member under Bye-law 9.4 from using the facilities of the Institute or exercising some or all of the other rights or privileges of membership.

4.       Disciplinary Process

4.1.    Council shall establish a Disciplinary Committee to oversee the disciplinary process. The Disciplinary Committee’s terms of reference shall include the power to form a Disciplinary Panel and to create any standing orders or rules of procedure for the implementation of this policy. The Disciplinary Committee shall ensure that its members and any Members of CIPA serving on a Disciplinary Panel receive appropriate training.

4.2.    All allegations of poor behaviour or conduct by a Member should be sent to CIPA’s Chief Executive in a manner determined by the Disciplinary Committee. In cases where criminal activity or intent is suspected and if deemed appropriate, Council will involve the police at the earliest possible stage. Where there is a police investigation or prosecution, either as a result of Council informing the police or notification by a third party, Council may defer the disciplinary process until the legal process is complete. In such instances, Council reserves the right to suspend Members from membership for an appropriate period.

4.3.    The Disciplinary Committee will form a Disciplinary Panel composed of three Members, at least two of whom shall be Fellows, to investigate any allegations of poor behaviour or conduct. The members of the Disciplinary Panel shall not be members of Council. Should any member of the Disciplinary Panel identify a conflict of interest with the Member being investigated or the person making the complaint, this must be declared to the Disciplinary Committee and the Disciplinary Committee will appoint an alternative panel member.

4.4.    The Disciplinary Panel will investigate the allegations, interviewing witnesses and reviewing other evidence as appropriate. The Member subject to the allegations and the person making the complaint will be invited to give evidence to the Disciplinary Panel. The Disciplinary Panel will ensure that all of those involved in a disciplinary investigation receive fair and consistent treatment.

4.5.    Adequate notice will be provided for Disciplinary Panel meetings, as set out in the standing orders or rules of procedure. The Member subject to the investigation or Members invited to present evidence may be accompanied by another Member of CIPA. Non-Members invited to present evidence may be accompanied by another person. As the Disciplinary Panel is not a regulatory tribunal, any accompanying person is there to provide support to the person presenting evidence, not in any legal capacity. On completion of its investigation, the Disciplinary Panel will make recommendations to Council.

4.6.    The Disciplinary Panel may conclude that there is no case to answer and recommend to Council that no further action is required, or that the case is proven. In the event that the case is found proven, the Disciplinary Panel will recommend appropriate sanctions to Council, up to and including expulsion from membership under Bye-law 12.1(k). Expulsion from membership will be recommended in cases of gross misconduct or repeated poor behaviour or conduct. General misconduct will result in a lesser sanction, such as the suspension of a Member under Bye-law 9.4 from using the facilities of the Institute or exercising some or all of the other rights or privileges of membership.

4.7.    Council will consider the Disciplinary Panel’s recommendations and agree appropriate sanctions. Where the conclusion is that a Member should be expelled from membership, the expulsion shall be carried out in compliance with Bye-law 12.

5.       Appeals

5.1.    Any appeal against a sanction should be made to Council within 28 days of the Member being notified of the decision. No appeal will be valid or considered after that period has elapsed. Full written grounds must be given for the appeal. Council will consider the appeal and may confirm the original decision, apply a lesser sanction or revoke the original decision. Council’s decision is final and there shall be no further appeal.


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