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Case Study 5

ROC Case Study - 05

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 5

I’ve got an opportunity to do a new type of work. I’ve some of the knowledge and enthusiasm I need and can do some training to get the rest, but I’ve never done this type of work before. Am I allowed to take up the offer?

Summary

  • You must work within the limits of your competence.
  • If you have the knowledge, skills and resources you may be able to take on new areas of work without having direct experience in the area.
  • Doing the work, rather than referring the client to someone else, must be in the interests of the client.
  • You must be open and honest with the client about the level of your experience.
  • Make sure you have PII that covers the area of work you are looking to take on.

Rules and behaviours

Rules 1 and 2, and behaviours 1.2 and 2.1 are relevant here.

Behaviour 2.1 expects members and firms to consider whether they have the knowledge, skills and resources to carry out work competently. You will notice that this does not specifically require you to have experience, so it does allow for new areas of work, as long as you have established the right knowledge and skills. In particular, you will need to think about the resources needed to be able to take on new work. That might include the time needed to do new work, which is likely to take longer to do competently, and may also include supervision or advice from an experienced practitioner, especially in more complex areas of work.

It is also important to consider whether taking on the work is in the best interests of the client and that you have acted with integrity in accepting instructions, and not been improperly influenced by your own self-interest, in line with Rule 1.

Commentary

It is a normal part of professional life to need and want to adapt to changing circumstances and explore new opportunities and areas of work. However, this needs to be done while understanding and staying with the limits of your competence and ensuring that the client still receives good quality service.

Part of acting with integrity includes avoiding situations when your interests conflict with those of your clients. Taking on a new area of work is likely to be in your interests. It may also be in your client’s best interests – for example because you know the client’s property or business, or because there is not another local professional who would be able to offer the service your client needs. However, you need to very carefully consider whether it would in fact be in the best interests of your client to refer them to an experienced person in this area of work.

Communicating with your client openly is also important. This may be because there is a perceived risk of a conflict of interest and you need informed consent, or it may simply be part of acting with integrity and providing a good-quality service to your clients to provide them with accurate information about your level of experience.

On a practical level you will also need to check that you have professional indemnity cover for any new area of work. You should check your policy and, if in any doubt, speak to your insurance broker.