Ethics & Governance

When observing the conduct of the ICE in relation to the recent change in the Charter it is worth looking at the Rules the ICE itself publishes and requires of its membership. These professional standards major on "doing the right thing" and avoiding conduct which could "have a negative impact upon the profession".  The ICE Conduct policy states:

"Being a qualified ICE member shows that you work to the highest professional standards. Following a shared code of conduct helps the public to put their trust in civil engineers. It also increases respect for the profession. Members who breach ICE's Code of Professional Conduct, or any of the ICE By-laws, could face disciplinary action."

Of particular relevance is the requirement that "being a member of the ICE is a badge of probity and good faith".  The use of the word Probity has set a very high standard. It means behaviour which is honest and fair. It is characterised by the word integrity which is the ability to build trust. Honesty implies a refusal to lie or deceive in any way. 

A legal definition of "good faith" comes from the judgment of Lord Justice Bingham in the 1987 case of Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd,  Lord Justice Thomas Bingham was later to become the Master of the Rolls. Lord Bingham gave this definition of good faith:

"In many civil law systems, and perhaps in most legal systems outside the common law world, the law of obligations recognises and enforces an overriding principle that in making and carrying out contracts parties should act in good faith. This does not simply mean that they should not deceive each other, a principle which any legal system must recognise; its effect is perhaps most aptly conveyed by such metaphorical colloquialisms as "playing fair", "coming clean" or "putting one's cards face upwards on the table". It is in essence a principle of fair and open dealing."

Whilst Lord Bingham's judgment is over 40 years old it has stood the test of time. Many legal commentators will cite the Intertoto case as the key definition for acting in "good faith". They commonly quote its meaning as "playing fair", "coming clean" or putting one's cards face up upwards on the table".

The visitor to this website may now wish to ask:

1. Whether the ICE corporately has behaved in a manner that lacks probity and / or good faith?

2. Whether there has been a lack of "probity and /or good faith" in the process of changing the charter of the ICE in 2018?


ICE Code of Professional Conduct - Ethics (from page 1 of the code and page 45 of the bye laws / charter attached) 

The duty to behave ethically The duty upon members of the ICE to behave ethically is, in effect, the duty to behave honourably; in modern words, ‘to do the right thing’. At its most basic, it means that members should be truthful and honest in dealings with clients, colleagues, other professionals, and anyone else they come into contact with in the course of their duties. Being a member of the ICE is a badge of probity and good faith, and members should do nothing that in any way could diminish the high standing of the profession. This includes any aspect of a member’s personal conduct which could have a negative impact upon the profession.

Members of the ICE should always be aware of their overriding responsibility to the public good. A member’s obligations to the client can never override this, and members of the ICE should not enter undertakings which compromise this responsibility. The ‘public good’ includes care and respect for humanity’s cultural, historical and archaeological heritage, in addition to the duties specified in the Rules of Professional Conduct to protect the health and well being of present and future generations and to show due regard for the environment and for the sustainable management of natural resources. 


Below is another extract of the ethical standards drafted by several construction professionals, including Civil Engineers for the Society of Construction Law. The themes of honesty, fairness and integrity, that are part of the ICE standards are consistently in evidence once more:

Society of Construction Law - Statement of Ethical Principles

Ethical conduct is the compliance with the following ethical principles.

  1. Honesty - act with honesty and avoid conduct likely to result, directly or indirectly, in the deception of others.
  2. Fairness - do not seek to obtain a benefit which arises directly or indirectly from the unfair treatment of other people.
  3. Fair reward - avoid acts which are likely to result in another party being deprived of a fair reward for their work.
  4. Reliability - maintain up to date skills and provide services only within your area of competence.
  5. Integrity - have regard for the interests of the public, particularly people who will make use of or obtain an interest in the project in the future.
  6. Objectivity - identify any potential conflicts of interest and disclose the conflict to any person who would be adversely affected by it.
  7. Accountability - provide information and warning of matters within your knowledge which are of potential detriment to others who may be adversely affected by them. Warning must be given in sufficient time to allow the taking of effective action to avoid detriment.

These principles apply to the work of all professionals working in the construction industry, whatever their original qualification or affiliation.