Trustees, employees, committee members, including prize committees, and any members who fulfil official roles for BISA i.e. working group conveners, journal editors, etc. should act at all times in the best interests of BISA, and avoid actual, potential, or apparent conflicts of interest.
1. What is a conflict?
Trustees have a duty under common law to act in the best interests of the charities they serve. Trustees should not seek to benefit materially from the charity and should not be influenced by their wider interests when making decisions affecting the charity.
A conflict of interest arises where the interests of the trustee, or “connected person” are incompatible or in competition with the interests of the charity. This arises in a transaction or relationship which presents or may present a conflict between an individual’s obligation to BISA and their personal, business or other interests. Importantly a conflict of interest can be both financial and non-financial.
Conflicts of interest may arise in the relations of trustees, directors, committee members, and employees with any of the following third parties (this list is not exhaustive):
- Persons and firms supplying goods and services to BISA
- Persons and firms with whom BISA is dealing or planning to deal in connection with the gift, purchase or sale of property and securities.
- Partner and other similar organisations
- Donors and others supporting BISA
- Recipients of grants and funding from BISA
- Agencies, organisations, and associations that affect the operations of BISA
- Family members, friends, and other employees.
A material conflicting interest may be defined as an interest, direct or indirect, with any persons and firms such as those referred to above. Such an interest might arise, for example, through:
- Owning stock or holding debt or other proprietary interests in any third party dealing commercially with BISA
- Holding office, serving on the board, participating in management, or being otherwise employed (or formerly employed) by any third party dealing commercially with BISA
- Receiving remuneration for services with respect to individual transactions involving BISA,
- Using BISA’s time, personnel, equipment, supplies, or good will other than for BISA activities, programmes, and purposes, or
- Receiving personal gifts or loans from third parties dealing with BISA. Receipt of any gift is disapproved except gifts of nominal value that could not be refused without discourtesy. No personal gift of money should ever be accepted.
2. Avoiding conflicts
All trustees, employees, committee members, and general members should be guided by BISA’s Code of Conduct, in turn, informed by the ‘public benefit’ guidance of the UK Charity Commission. Consequently, when acting in their professional capacity, trustees, members, or employees of BISA are permitted to articulate a view that directly concerns the interests of their members but otherwise should not speak out on an issue of public policy, endorse a political candidate, or otherwise participate in political affairs. When engaging in any political activity in a personal capacity, they should not encourage any inference that they act for or on behalf of BISA. The use of the title of the office held in BISA when used in political communication, even if labelled “for identification purposes only,” may well be seen by others as an endorsement of a political position by BISA and is not permitted.
Trustees and employees of BISA are free to engage in activities outside their obligations to BISA provided that such activities are consistent with their duties and responsibilities to BISA. When doubts arise about the activities of subordinate staff members or the activities of the Director, these should also be resolved according to the procedures detailed in 3. below.
Trustees or employees of BISA should not knowingly participate in transactions involving BISA, if they have a substantial economic interest in them. Under such circumstances, they should disqualify themselves from participating in any such transactions.
3. Disclosure and referrals
All actual, potential, or apparent conflicts of interest should be fully disclosed and reviewed according to the procedures specified here, even though it is recognised that not all conflicts of interest are necessarily prohibited or harmful to BISA.
All actual and potential conflicts of interests need to be disclosed by use of the ‘Acknowledgement and disclosure of conflicts’ form included below. Advice on its completion can be provided by either the BISA Chair or Director. Conflicts will be considered as follows:
- In matters involving Executive Committee Members (including BISA officers): Executive Committee members including BISA officers should attest to the Director that there is no conflict of interest affecting their BISA service at the time of their appointment. If such a potential or specific conflicts of interest is identified, the matter should be reported (via the Acknowledgement and Disclosure of Conflicts Form) to the Director, and resolved in consultation with the officers of the Executive Committee with the interested Committee member recused from participating in debates and voting on the matter as required. Any Committee member or Chair who is implicated in a conflict of interest, whether directly or indirectly, shall not participate in the assessment of the risk but may be called upon by those undertaking the assessment to provide further details.
- In matters involving working group conveners and prize committee members (not otherwise covered by the categories above). Working group convenors and prize committee members should attest to the Director that there is no conflict of interest affecting their BISA service at the time of their appointment. If such a potential or specific conflict of interest is identified, the matter should be reported (via the ‘Acknowledgement and disclosure of conflicts form) to the Director, and resolved in consultation with the officers of the Executive Committee.
- In matters involving the Director: reports shall be made via the ‘Acknowledgement and disclosure of conflicts’ form and shall be resolved in consultation with the other officers of the Executive Committee. Nothing in this provision should be regarded as countermanding provisions contained in any contract of employment between the Director and BISA.
- In matters involving employees: reports shall be made (via the ‘Acknowledgement and disclosure of conflicts’ form) to the Director in consultation with the Officers. The Director shall make a determination as to whether a conflict exists and what subsequent action is appropriate (if any). Nothing in this provision should be regarded as countermanding provisions contained in any contract of employment between the employee and BISA.
All declarations of conflicts of interest will be recorded in BISA’s ‘Conflicts of interest’ register, even if, having considered the declaration, it is concluded that the declared conflict presents no significant risk to BISA. The ‘Conflicts of interest’ register shall be reviewed on a regular basis, and at the start of every meeting of the Executive Committee.
Trustees and employees have a fiduciary duty to conduct themselves without conflict to the interests of BISA. In their capacity as trustees and employees, they must subordinate personal, individual business, third-party, and other interests to the welfare and best interests of BISA. Trustees and employees of BISA should not knowingly participate in transactions involving BISA, if they have a substantial economic interest in them. Under such circumstances, they should disqualify themselves from participating in transactions involving BISA.
This policy is to be read in conjunction with the following policies:
- Code of Conduct for members
- Duty of trustees policy
- Anti-bribery policy
4. Monitoring and reviewing this policy
This policy shall be reviewed on a quarterly basis by the BISA Executive Committee. Responsibility for the policy lies with the Director who is answerable to the BISA Chair. The Director, in turn, can delegate oversight and implementation to an appropriate BISA staff member or trustee.
5. Change and review history
- Adopted: February 2017
- Reviewed 2020 - amended