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Case Study 4

ROC Case Study - 04

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 4

I’ve seen some social media content posted by an RICS member that worries me. Do I have to report it to RICS?

Summary

  • Comments on social media should be made in good faith but can be critical of people or institutions, if the language used and context is professional and appropriate.
  • Comments that discriminate against people for improper reasons, for example their sex, race, religion or gender, are likely to damage confidence in the profession.
  • Dishonest, offensive, bullying or harassing content is likely to breach the Rules of Conduct.

Rules and behaviours

Rules 1, 4 and 5 and behaviours 4.3 and 5.3 are all relevant here.

Statements made in good faith, which do not use offensive language and are respectful – even those that are critical of a person or institution – are unlikely to breach Rule 5. This includes statements that are critical of RICS, another RICS member or other professionals. Social media is an important tool for raising concerns and contributing to debate. It is also used to advertise and promote professional services, to provide reviews of services and to legitimately warn others about failures in those services. Using social media in these ways is not likely to be considered to bring the profession into disrepute.

However, there are some types of post that the public, stakeholders or the profession would be concerned to see from members of a profession or professional firms, and that would be likely to damage confidence in the profession. For example, posts or media use that contain racist, sexist, discriminatory or homophobic comments would damage confidence that the profession treats individuals fairly and with respect. These types of post would be in breach of Rule 4.

Similarly, posts that are dishonest would damage public confidence in the honesty of the profession (as well as potentially being a breach of Rule 1).

Commentary

Behaviour within a member’s personal or private life is capable of breaching the Rules of Conduct where that conduct is serious and impacts on public confidence in the profession.

RICS members use social media for personal and business reasons to express their opinions and we want to support them to continue to do this. There are, however, some circumstances in which social media posts can be viewed as significant breaches of the Rules of Conduct, and other members would then be required, under the Bye-Laws and the Rules, to report these to RICS.

We can disagree with others and be professionally critical of them without breaching the Rules. However, where a social media comment moves beyond reasonable criticism or debate and becomes bullying or harassment it is likely to breach the Rules. If the person making the comments can be identified as an RICS member or representing a regulated firm, or even (in serious cases) where the post is made in a personal capacity, you should consider reporting the matter to the RICS. If RICS considers there has been a breach of the Rules they will then consider whether further action is required. This might not be disciplinary action, but may be advice on how to avoid breaching the Rules in future.

See Use of social media: guidance for RICS members for more information.