Codes of Conduct

There are two codes of conduct:

A. For corporate members and individual members who run their own paralegal businesses: the Institute Quality Standards.

B. For all other individual members: the Paralegal Code of Conduct.

A. The Institute Quality Standards (IQS)

These are for unregulated legal service providers.

The IQS are for those legal service providers who want to comply with national quality standards, but who are not covered by the quality standards set by legal regulators. The IQS are designed to be relevant to any legal service provider keen to display a commitment to professionalism, or wanting to assure prospective clients that theirs is a quality assured business, bench marked against independent quality standards especially designed for the legal sector.

The IQS differs from the Paralegal Code of Conduct in that it requires relevant members to incorporate certain good practice procedures into their business (e.g. have a complaints procedure and professional indemnity insurance).

There is also an IQS accreditation scheme that allows members in compliance to use an accreditation logo.

Members have a grace period of seven months from joining to be in full compliance.

See/download a copy of the IQS here.

Anyone wishing to make a complaint about a member in respect of the IQS should view the IOP Complaints Policy first.

B. The Paralegal Code of Conduct

The Paralegal Code contains the principles and rules of professional conduct which individual members of the Institute not running their own paralegal business are obliged to comply with as a condition of their continued membership of the Institute. For other standards issued by other bodies possibly affecting paralegals please click here.

The Paralegal Code of Conduct delineates the standards of professionalism we expect from individual members and that members and third parties can expect from Institute paralegals.

The Paralegal Code of Conduct is in addition to any other conduct standards that members may be subject to: e.g. duty to the court, or contractual or statutory obligations such as fiduciary duty.

Compliance with the Paralegal Code of Conduct is an essential element of membership as it helps distinguish the professional paralegal.

The Paralegal Code of Conduct:

Disclaimer

The Institute of Paralegals reserves the right to terminate membership of any individual member where it believes that the member may be in breach of its code of conduct or where it has reason to suspect that a member is involved in any action or situation, whether intentionally or by coincidence, which may bring disrepute upon its members.

This does not necessitate a complaint being made, nor does it necessitate the allegation of misconduct.

The Institute does not take such action lightly and does so in the best interests of the Institute as a whole.

Decisions made by the Secretariat are final and no further correspondence is entered into with the Member, once such action has been taken to avoid unnecessary distress.

1. Introduction

This is the Paralegal Code of Conduct, the Institute's rules and principles of professional
conduct for Institute members.

In this Paralegal Code:
´member´ includes all grades of membership of the Institute.

When interpreting this Code, the Institute will take into account the relevant level of Competency Standards for Paralegals when adjudicating on competency or similar issues.

2. General

All members of the Institute are required to comply with the Paralegal Code of Conduct, the Complaints procedure and any other rules governing professional conduct matters passed
by the Institute from time to time.
Members must:

2.1. Support the Institute’s objective of helping to ensure good standards of service to clients, by promoting the Institute and the Paralegal profession as a whole.

2.2. At all times when acting as a paralegal uphold the standards of professional practice set
out in this Paralegal Code.

3. Secretariat

Complaints will be handled in the first instance by the IoP’s membership team. The secretariat has the authority to consider and determine any complaint made against an IoP member.

The secretariat has the power to sanction a member found in breach of the Institute’s Code of Conduct or other rules of the Institute. Sanctions such as: suspension or termination of membership. It may also order that a member cease to use the Associate, Qualified or Fellow of the IoP titles even if such a member remains a member.

The secretariat does not have authority to order payments of fines or costs or compensation to a complainant or other party. However, if the secretarial make recommendations to a member about recompense to a complainant (e.g. return of fees paid or client documents held in lien) and these are ignored, then that fact may be taken into account when adjudicating a matter.

4. Conduct Generally

A member, when acting in his/her professional capacity shall so conduct him/herself so as
to:

4.1. Provide a good standard of work at all times;

4.2. To uphold my duties and obligations under law;

4.3. Avoid any action or situation which may bring disrepute upon the Institute or its members;

4.4. Avoid doubt being cast upon his/her own professional integrity or the reputation of the Paralegal Profession;

4.5. Assist with the impartial administration of justice;

4.6. Recognise that the interests of the client (if any, his/her employer if not) are paramount to those of all others, save that at all times, and in all matters, a member’s primary and overriding duty is to the court;

4.7. Ensure clients and others fully understand from the outset that they are dealing with a paralegal or paralegal law firm and not a statutory regulated lawyer;

4.8. All legal practitioners owe a wider duty of care to society at large. Members are therefore
expected to conduct themselves and their businesses in a way which, whenever reasonably
possible, seeks to improve the quality of service given to clients and to support
access to justice for all and uphold the rule of law;

4.9. Where a member is subject to other jurisdictions or legal systems outside of the United
Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man then he/she is expected to comply with these
professional standards where practicable, but will not necessarily be deemed to be in breach
if there has been compliance with established local custom and practice which is itself in
conflict with these standards;

and shall observe and be bound by this Code and any other practice and conduct rules issued from time to time by the Institute.

5. Private Actions

Actions of a member in his/her private capacity may be a matter of relevance to the
Institute, and thus be covered by this Code, if it is of such seriousness as to impede,
influence or otherwise affect the member in his/her personal capacity.

6. Conduct in Relation to Clients and the General Public

Members acknowledge that the Institute does not exist solely for the benefit of its members.
An integral part of the duty of members is to have regard to the interests of clients and also
the wider general public (i.e. the duties in this Code are not just limited to clients, but extend
to the public who come into contact with and who may be affected by members’ conduct).
The Institute reserves the right to consider complaints made by members of the public.

7. Duties

A member shall not:

7.1. Misuse the trust reposed in him/her, nor reveal confidential information other than to those entitled to receive it. Members are under a duty to keep client’s confidential  information to his/her firm or organisation the affairs of clients/employers and to take steps to  ensure that staff reporting to them also understand the duty of confidentiality;

7.2. Act for two or more clients where there is a conflict of interest between them or where there is a conflict of interest between the member and the client or the member’s employer and the client;

7.3. For the personal gain of him/herself or his/her family take advantage of information obtained in the course of his/her conduct of any matter;

7.4. Hold him/herself out as a member of the Institute unless he/she is in good standing as a fully paid up member;

7.5. Overcharge clients or profit from the paralegal-client relationship without such profit being disclosed to the client.

7.6. A member shall, at all times, work within the framework of the law and shall use his/her best endeavours to avoid any breach of the law by his/her client/employer;

7.7. Continue to use his/her professional designation (e.g. Associate Paralegal) or letters
granted (e.g. Q.Inst.Pa) after membership terminates for any reason;

7.8. Claim to be regulated by the Institute.

8. Discrimination

Members must not discriminate on grounds of race, age, sex or sexual orientation, and must
not discriminate unfairly or unreasonably on grounds of disability in their professional
dealings with clients, employers, staff, other legal practitioners or other persons.
Members acting as principals must operate a policy dealing with the avoidance of such
discrimination, and members with management responsibilities in employed situations must
use reasonable endeavours to secure the operation of such a policy.

End of Code

Questions and enquiries
Please address any questions or enquiries to:
Institute of Paralegals
Unit 110 Linton House, 164 - 180 Union Street, London, SE1 0LH, United Kingdom
Tel: 020 7587 3919 - Email: office@theiop.org -Web: www.theiop.org

Download a copy of the Code here.

Anyone wishing to make a complaint about a member in respect of the Code of Conduct should view the IOP Complaints Policy first.


 

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