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Case Study 2

ROC Case Study - 02

These case studies are examples to help you to apply the Rules of Conduct in situations that may arise in your professional practice.

When making ethical professional decisions, you need to:

  • consider the facts
  • identify the relevant RICS standards in the Rules of Conduct and other guidance
  • use your professional judgement, which may require you to balance different interests and principles.

What matters is that you can show that you have done your best to follow the professional standards set by RICS.

Read the case study below

Scenario 2

Do I have to refuse to act for a developer seeking to build where the local community objects to the project because I need to act in the public interest?


  • Acting in the public interest doesn’t mean that you can’t help clients do something that members of the public object to or might disagree with.
  • There is a public interest in developers having independent professional advice.
  • You would have to act to prevent harm or a risk of serious harm.
  • In most countries there will be a planning or licensing process that will consider competing rights before allowing development, and there is a public interest in developers having access to advice from properly qualified professionals.

Rules and behaviours

Rules 3 and 5 and behaviours 3.5 and 3.10 are relevant here.

Behaviour 3.10 (advising sustainable solutions) should be taken into account – advising your client if there are options to balance economic, social and environmental benefits – but does not prevent you acting. The behaviour expects you to provide advice but does not say that you cannot continue to act where the client chooses not to take that advice. Providing a diligent service to a client is likely to include providing advice about any options that might mitigate community concerns (balancing social, economic and environmental benefits) as an ongoing dispute with the community may cost more in the long run. Of course, there might not be any such options, depending on the type of work you are doing, or providing them may not be within your sphere of competence. The Rules of Conduct expect you only to do work that you have the skills, knowledge and resources to deliver competently.


The Rules expect you to act to prevent harm or a risk of serious harm, to either safety or to public confidence in the profession. If you find out, for example, that the client is polluting a nearby water source or has provided false or misleading information to the planning authority, acting in the public interest is likely to mean that you need to stop acting for that client, especially if they are doing something illegal.

You may also need to take action, like informing the authorities, if that is necessary to stop harm to others or to demonstrate that the public can trust the profession to act ethically.

It can sometimes be helpful to consider what would be the impact on your professional reputation, or even how you would feel if your actions for your client were made public. Could you justify your actions and would people still trust and have confidence in you if they knew what you were doing?