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Rule revisions reflect modern role

ICE'S RULES of professional conduct are to be given their biggest overhaul since they were first framed in 1963.

New ethics are included to cater for the multi-faceted function of the modern engineer, who operates in a more 'diverse, complex and confusing' working environment.

An Institution spokesman said: 'The original rules were written when most chartered engineers were self employed. Now that a lot more people are employees, the rules need adjusting.'

The 14 rules of professional conduct have been rejigged and three new rules added, making a new total of 16. New rules include rule 2, 'to uphold the dignity, respect and trustworthiness of the profession at all times'; and rule 11, that 'a member shall, consistent with safety and other aspects of the public interest, endeavour to deliver to the employer or client cost effective solutions, and not comply with any instruction requiring dishonest action or the disregard of established norms of safety in design and construction.' The third new rule is that engineers shall act with integrity if requested to comment on another engineer's work, 'except for routine or statutory checks or when the member's client or employer requires confidentiality'.

Additions to existing rules include 'not undertaking work in areas in which the member is not competent to practise,' in rule 1; and that members should 'declare any pecuniary interest in any other organisation involved in the work being undertaken for employer and client'.

The rules - amended in 1971, 1973, 1982 and 1992 - were significantly overhauled after work by the ethics committee from 1993-96. It was decided to wait until after the Cawthra Commission report before pursuing the revision.

Some 'tidying up' of the wording will be made before implementation, after Council members complained some revisions were long winded. A full clarification of the word 'employer' was also needed.

Executive Board proposed that disciplinary action arising from revised rules should be amended to allow an appeal to the Engineering Council. The appeal would be against the disciplinary process rather than the facts of each case. The proposal will be put to a ballot of the corporate membership.

ICE revisions come as the Engineering Council has just prepared an 'aspirational' code of conduct for engineers. The EC paper will be discussed at the next Council meeting.

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