All UKLR registrants are bound by a code of conduct, either the CIPR’s or another relevant and effective code.
The UKLR currently recognises two codes of conduct:
Where a registered lobbyist is covered by a relevant code recognised by the UKLR, any complaints received will be passed to the organisation which enforces the code for action.
The CIPR will handle
a) complaints about CIPR members
b) complaints about any registered lobbyists who are not otherwise covered by a recognised code of conduct. These complaints will be handled according to the CIPR Code of Conduct and (other things being equal) as though the lobbyists were CIPR members.
Enforcing the CIPR Code of Conduct
It is the Code, and the fact that the Institute can take steps to uphold it, that makes lobbyists (and indeed all other CIPR members) accountable for the standard of their professional conduct. This accountability is a valuable asset both to practitioners and to those who hire or employ them.
Anyone can make a complaint to the Institute if they believe a CIPR member, or a registered lobbyist who is not covered by any other recognised code of conduct, may have breached the Code. CIPR members and such other lobbyists are also accountable for the professional behaviour of others for whom they are directly responsible – whether or not these people are themselves CIPR members or registered lobbyists.
We treat complaints seriously and carefully. We must be fair, equal and rigorous in respect of both parties to a complaint: those who have been complained against, as well as the people who have complained.
If it appears that the Code has been breached, the CIPR will investigate and either negotiate a settlement or adjudicate.
We resolve most complaints through informal negotiation ('Conciliation'). When this is not possible, a hearing is convened through the Professional Standards Panel (PSP). Hearings are conducted by members of the PSP and lay professionals, advised by the Regulatory Consultant and the CIPR's solicitor. The complainant and respondent (the lobbyist) are expected to attend and may each bring someone to represent or support them.
The hearing results in a report to CIPR Board of Directors, which endorses the decision of the PSP. The Appeals Panel considers appeals by respondents against decisions of the PSP, and objections concerning the conduct of the complaints procedure may be referred at any time to an independent Arbiter who is appointed for this purpose.
In certain cases the Institute's Board of Directors may expel a person summarily, that is, without going through the Complaints Procedure: for example, if the person has been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or of any sufficiently serious crime, or has breached the rules of a regulatory or other authority by which they are bound.
Where a complaint is upheld, sanctions open to the PSP range from a reprimand to suspension or termination of membership (of the Lobbying Register or the Institute or both). Where a case is found not proven, no further action will be taken. Where the Code of Conduct is found to have been breached, decisions of the PSP are normally made public.
If the Panels decide that a lobbyist has delivered substandard work to you, they may require the lobbyist to return any fees you paid for that work. If the substandard work was part of a larger contract, the refund is limited to the value of that part of the contract. If you want further compensation, you will have to go to law: the CIPR does not impose damages.
Further information, along with instructions on registering a complaint can be found on the CIPR website.
To enquire further about the complaints procedure, or to make a complaint, contact:
Chartered Institute of Public Relations,
52-53 Russell Square, London WC1B 4HP