CIPR confirms new structure for Code of Conduct, complaints and hearings
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations has revised the structure of panels and committees through which it manages the Code of Conduct and adjudicates on complaints about members.
All CIPR members are bound by the Code, which sets out the professional standards expected of them and regulates their conduct in the public interest, as required by the Institute’s Royal Charter. Any member of the public who has concerns about the conduct of a CIPR member may raise a complaint under the Code of Conduct.
In 2013, the CIPR’s governing Council voted to reform how the Code and complaints are managed. The changes bring the CIPR up-to-date with best practice in line with the “ILEX ruling” by the Court of Appeal (see notes).
The CIPR always aims to resolve complaints amicably, through negotiation, if at all possible. Failing that, they are adjudicated in a formal hearing.
Previously, hearings were conducted by members of the CIPR Council serving on the Professional Practices Committee. Since 1 January 2014, this has been the responsibility of the new Professional Standards Panel. There is also a newly constituted Appeals Panel and an Arbiter.
The panels have been recruited from the CIPR membership against set criteria, with no panel member allowed to serve on the CIPR Council or Executive Board in any capacity. Recruitment took place between December 2013 and March 2014 and was ratified by the CIPR Council in April.
The CIPR members of panels are joined by ‘lay members’ who are not public relations practitioners. Their independence reinforces the CIPR’s commitment to a fair, open and impartial process.
The CIPR retains a Regulatory Consultant who acts the first point of contact for complaints and advises both parties, and the CIPR itself, through the process.
These reforms have brought the CIPR’s already strong processes firmly into line with best practice. By recruiting volunteers to participate in hearings from outside the Institute’s key governance committees, we have addressed the possibility, however slight, of a conflict of interest arising between the aims of the organisation and a just process of professional regulation.
The CIPR Code of Conduct is a critical part of our work and fundamental to the development of enforceable professional standards for public relations. Our processes have been developed through years of application and clients, employers and the general public can have confidence in them as a means of holding members to account for their conduct. Members should also be assured that a rigorous approach is first and foremost in the interests of the profession and that they can and should highlight their accountability to a meaningful system of self-regulation as a key element in their personal professionalism.
Notes to editors
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas. The CIPR is the largest membership organisation for PR practitioners outside of North America. By size of turnover and number of individually registered members, we are the leading representative body for the PR profession and industry in Europe.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).