Many associations publish a code of conduct to which their members must adhere. It is binding on their members and self-regulation in the public interest. There are often good reasons for drafting and publishing a code. Sometimes, it is so that the association is recognised as an Industry Representative Body, like the ISPA Code of Conduct. This has various advantages, like enabling its members to get limited liability. Another objective could be to set a standard. Or to increase the trust and confidence that the public has in a particular service. For example, if a company says “We are a member of the DMA”, the idea is that the public can rely on the company because it is part of a body (a club) whose members adhere to certain standards.
Some examples of Codes of Conduct
- The Direct Market Association (DMA) Code of Conduct
- The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) Code of Conduct
- The IAB South Africa (formerly known as the Digital Media & Marketing Association of South Africa (DMMA)) Code of Conduct
- The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) Code of Conduct
- The Credit Bureau Association (CBA) Code of Conduct
- The Association for Savings & Investments SA (ASISA) Codes, Standards and Guidelines
- The Mobile Marketing Association of South Africa Code of Conduct
- The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) Code of Conduct
- South African Insurance Association (SAIA) Code of Conduct
- The Parliament of South Africa’s Code of Conduct
- The Federation of African Professional Staffing Organisations (APSO) Codes
A code can also be a way for a sector, industry or a group of stakeholders to regulate themselves, rather than being regulated by a regulator. For example, like where the Information Regulator issues a code under section 60 of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI). One advantage for any organisation that is a member of the association whose code has been issued, is that they do not need to get the prior authorisation (or notify the Information Regulator) before they process personal information. According to King III all organisations should consider adhering to all applicable codes. They do not have to, but if they want to be a member of an association (and receive the benefits associated with that), they must comply with the code of that association.
What does a code of conduct contain?
The code normally reads like so:
- Members must do ABC
- Members should consider XYZ
- Members may do …, but must not do …
There are also some general matters that must be dealt with:
- To whom does it apply
- What is its status
- How can it be changed
- The consequences for members if they do not comply
- How people can complain about members
Characteristics of a good code of conduct
A code should be:
- short and to the point
- in plain and understandable language
- well structured
- in accordance with and inline with the latest laws and rules
- clear on what conduct is permitted and what is not
- specific, relevant and applicable to the members
The ISPA Code of Conduct is a reasonably good example. There are however many horrible codes of conduct that do not meet these criteria.
How we can help
If you are an industry body, as experts on legal documents we can help you:
- review and update your existing code
- update your code to bring it in line with POPI
- draft a new code for you, including workshopping and formulating the content
- get your code issued by the Information Regulator
- present it to your members
- train your members on complying with it
- to respond if you are accused of not complying
If you are a member, we can help you:
- comment on a code of an association you belong to is suggesting
- help you to comply with a code of conduct
- respond if you are accused of not complying
Interested in a code of conduct?
If you are interested, enquire in the form on the right or enquire now. We will contact you to find out more about your requirements and give you a quote.