The UK Deed Poll Office

The Paralegal Code of Conduct

1. Introduction

This is the Paralegal Code of Conduct, the Institute's rules and principles of professional conduct for Institute members.

Corporate members will be expected to comply with the Institute's Management Best-Practice Standards once issued.

When interpreting this Paralegal Code, the Institute will take into account the relevant level of National Competency Standards for Paralegals when adjudicating on competency or similar issues.

2. General

All members of the Institute, whatever their status or branch, are required to comply with this Paralegal Code together with any other rules governing professional conduct matters passed by the Institute from time to time.

Members must:

2.1. Support the Institute's objective of helping to ensure good standards of service to clients

2.2. At all times when acting as a paralegal uphold the standards of professional practice set out in this Paralegal Code.

3. Secretariat and Disciplinary Tribunal

Minor matters will be handled by the Institute's secretariat. For more serious matters, the Institute will provide for a Disciplinary Tribunal to be convened if so requested by the secretariat. Both have the authority to consider and determine any complaint that the Paralegal Code or other principle of conduct has been breached.

Both the secretariat and the Tribunal have the power to order a member found in breach to be excluded either permanently or temporarily from membership, and/or be reprimanded. It may also order that a member cease to use the Certified or Qualified Paralegal titles even if such a member remains a member.

Neither the secretariat nor the Tribunal have authority to order payments of fines or costs or compensation to a complainant or other party. However, if the secretarial or Tribunal make recommendations to a member about recompense to a complainant (e.g. return of client documents held in lien) and these are ignored, then that fact may be taken into account when adjudicating a matter.

4. Conduct Generally

A member, when acting in his/her professional capacity shall so conduct him/herself so as to:

4.1. Provide a good standard of work at all times

4.2. Avoid any action or situation which may bring disrepute upon the Institute or its members;

4.3. Avoid doubt being cast upon his/her own professional integrity;

4.4. Assist with the impartial administration of justice;

4.5. Recognise that the interests of the client (if any, his/her employer if not) are paramount to those of all others, save that at all times, and in all matters, a member's primary and overriding duty is to the court.

4.6. Ensure clients and others fully understand from the outset that they are dealing with a paralegal or paralegal law firm and not a solicitor, barrister, etc.

And shall observe and be bound by this Code and any other practice and conduct rules issued from time to time by the Institute.

5. Private Actions

Actions of a member in his/her private capacity may be a matter of relevance to the Institute, and thus be covered by this Paralegal Code, if it is of such seriousness as to impede, influence or otherwise affect the member in his/her personal capacity.

6. Conduct in Relation to Clients and the General Public

Members acknowledge that the Institute does not exist solely for the benefit of its members. An integral part of the duty of members is to have regard to the interests of clients and also the wider general public (i.e. the duties in this Paralegal Code are not just limited to clients, but extend to the public who come into contact with and who may be affected by members' conduct).

Non-clients are entitled to lay complaints about members.

For the avoidance of doubt in the event of a conflict of interest members' duties lie first with the court and then with the client. But whenever possible the interests of the general public must be taken into account.

7. Duties

A member shall not:

7.1. Misuse the trust reposed in him/her, nor reveal confidential information other than to those entitled to receive it. Members are under a duty to keep confidential to his/her firm or organisation the affairs of clients/employers and to take steps to ensure that any staff reporting to them also understand the duty of confidentiality;

7.2. Act for two or more clients where there is a conflict of interest between them or where there is a conflict of interest between the member and the client or the member's employer and the client

7.3. For the personal gain of him/herself or his/her family take advantage of information obtained in the course of his/her conduct of any matter;

7.4. Hold him/herself out as a member of the Institute unless he/she is in good standing as a fully paid up member.

7.5. Overcharge clients or profit from the paralegal-client relationship without such profit being disclosed to the client.

A member shall, at all times, work within the framework of the law and shall use his/her best endeavours to avoid any breach of the law by his/her client/employer.

8. Discrimination

Members must not discriminate on grounds of race, age, sex or sexual orientation, and must not discriminate unfairly or unreasonably on grounds of disability in their professional dealings with clients, employers, staff, other legal practitioners or other persons.

Members acting as principals must operate a policy dealing with the avoidance of such discrimination, and members with management responsibilities in employed situations must use reasonable endeavours to secure the operation of such a policy.

9. Notes

In this Paralegal Code:

´member´ includes all grades of membership of the Institute in all three branches (United Kingdom, International and Hong Kong) and corporate members.

All legal practitioners owe a wider duty of care to society at large. Members are therefore expected to conduct themselves and their businesses in a way which, whenever reasonably possible, seeks to improve the quality of service given to clients and others; to support access to justice for all and uphold the rule of law.

Where a member is subject to other jurisdictions or legal systems outside of the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man then he/she is expected to comply with these professional standards where practicable, but will not necessarily be deemed to be in breach if there has been compliance with established local custom and practice which is itself in conflict with these standards.

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