UK: The Devil’s In The Detail: RICS To Move Away From Detailed Conduct Rules

Last Updated: 2 November 2006

Article by BLG’s Professional Liability and Commercial Litigation Team

We reported, in the last edition of the Property Professionals’ Liability briefing, on some of the key recommendations made by Sir Bryan Carsberg following his review of the regulatory regime of RICS. In this article we focus on one of those proposals, that is the move towards principles-based regulation, in respect of which RICS has firmly grasped the nettle.

Sir Bryan recommended that RICS should adopt a principles-based approach to regulation, providing supporting (non-mandatory) guidance where appropriate. The concern underlying this recommendation (and this is a concern no doubt shared by a number of members) is that the existing rules are unduly rigid and detailed and do not reflect modern working methods. In particular, there has been a concern among members that the application of the rules has also been somewhat rigid and there is little scope for discretion when dealing with minor lapses. In other words, there is too much "stick" and insufficient "carrot".

From RICS’ perspective, Sir Bryan recognised that it cannot always be costeffective to spend a great deal of time and effort in pursuing members for minor breaches of the rules and, significantly, breaches which present little or no risk to the consumer. The new regime is intended to provide a great deal more flexibility and, it is hoped, will result in more efficient and costeffective regulation.

RICS has produced two sets of draft rules; one regulating the conduct of firms and the other dealing with the conduct of individual members. The draft rules really are brief, and are supported by guidance which is intended to assist members in understanding their obligations. The guidance is nonmandatory and sets out the ways in which firms and individual members are likely to be able to show that they satisfy the rules.

As suggested by the introduction of formal rules governing the conduct of firms, it is intended that the focus is, to some extent, taken off individual members and that the focus of regulation should be the firms so far as possible. Each firm would be required to nominate a compliance principal who would be the principal point of contact with RICS and would have responsibility for ensuring the firm’s compliance with the rules. Firms will be expected to be pro-active in taking any necessary remedial action. Although it is intended that any sanction for a breach by a firm would be made against the firm (rather than an individual member), any disciplinary action could and would focus on the individual member or members involved should the conduct be sufficiently serious to warrant this.

A significant difference in terms of enforcement is that breaches or potential breaches will be assessed initially on an administrative level, with only breaches which are considered serious enough to warrant a disciplinary sanction being passed into the disciplinary process. Further, the disciplinary process will be in several tiers and only the more serious breaches will be referred to a Disciplinary Panel. It is envisaged that simple failures and minor breaches of the rules will be dealt with by fixed penalties and "consent orders" respectively. Members will no doubt welcome the proposal that minor breaches will not automatically be publicised, especially if the firm or member agrees to the fine or condition proposed by RICS.

RICS is keen to stress that this is not to say that regulation generally will be less effective and provide less protection for consumers. Rather, it is intended that the focus will be on the more serious problems which reflect a risk to consumers.

RICS is, quite sensibly, taking great care to consult with members as regards the proposals, and recently published its response to the feedback received from members. Following this, in July it announced that its Governing Council has approved the development of detailed selfregulator reform proposals for consideration by the membership. The proposal to move to principles-based regulation certainly seems to have the support of the members in general terms. One of the concerns raised by members, however, is whether it will be sufficiently clear, from the broad principles supplemented by the non-mandatory guidance, what they should and should not do, and whether some clarity will be lost. In response, RICS has provided assurance that the rules will be clear, that guidance remains guidance and that "regulatory creep" must be avoided. Members are also keen that great care be taken as regards the definition of a "firm", which definition will determine the entities which fall within the regulatory regime. The response from members to the proposals generally has demonstrated differing opinions in this area, with some members favouring a narrow definition of "firm" whilst others were keen that as many firms as possible be brought within the regime. RICS is to consider this further, having thus far made clear that its intention, in principle, is to create a good practice regime designed to appeal to those firms not strictly caught by the requirements (for example firms where chartered surveyors are in a minority) such that they will wish to opt in in any event.

It certainly seems as though the move to principles-based regulation will proceed (members have been invited to vote on the new regime at an EGM in October) and RICS will need to ensure that sufficient guidance and support for members is available. The increased flexibility, and the intention to focus on improved education and support as opposed to the historical "stick", should hopefully provide the right environment for members to feel their way in the early stages and become entirely comfortable in time with the new system.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.