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FIRMS Network Code of Conduct for Approved Practitioners

Version No. 2        Date of Issue 9/12/2013

  1. Recognise that your overriding duty is to the court and to the administration of justice: it is your duty to present your findings and evidence, whether written or oral, in a fair and impartial manner.

  2. Act with honesty, integrity, objectivity and impartiality: you will not discriminate on grounds of race, beliefs, gender, language, sexual orientation, social status, age, lifestyle or political persuasion.

  3. Comply with the Code of Conduct of any professional body of which you are a member.

  4. Provide expert advice and evidence only within the limits of your professional competence and only when fit to do so.

  5. Inform a suitable person or authority, in confidence where appropriate, if you have good grounds for believing there is a situation which may result in a miscarriage of justice.

  6. Take all reasonable steps to maintain and develop your professional competence, taking account of material research and developments within the relevant field and practising techniques of quality assurance.

  7. Declare to your client or employer, if you have one, any prior involvement or personal interest which gives, or may give, rise to a conflict of interest, real or perceived; and act in such a case only with their explicit written consent

  8. Take all reasonable steps to ensure access to all available evidential materials which are relevant to the examinations requested; to establish, so far as reasonably practicable, whether any may have been compromised before coming into your possession; and to ensure their integrity and security are maintained whilst in your possession.

  9. Accept responsibility for all work done under your supervision, direct or indirect.

  10. Conduct all work in accordance with the established principles of your profession, using methods, procedures or protocols of proven validity and appropriate equipment and materials.

  11. Make and retain full, contemporaneous, clear and accurate records of the examinations you conduct, your methods and your results, in sufficient detail for another forensic practitioner competent in the same area of work to review your work independently.

  12. Report clearly, comprehensively and impartially, setting out or stating:
    1. your terms of reference and the source of your instructions;
    2. the material upon which you based your investigation and conclusions;
    3. summaries of your and your team's work, results and conclusions;
    4. any ways in which your investigations or conclusions were limited by external factors; especially if your access to relevant material was restricted; or if you believe unreasonable limitations on your time, or on the human, physical or financial resources available to you, have significantly compromised the quality of your work;
    5. that you have carried out your work and prepared your report in accordance with this Code.

  13. Reconsider and, if necessary, be prepared to change your conclusions, opinions or advice and to reinterpret your findings in the light of new information or new developments in the relevant field; and take the initiative in informing your client or employer promptly of any such change.

  14. Preserve confidentiality unless:
    1. the client explicitly authorises you to disclose something;
    2. a court or tribunal orders disclosure;
    3. the law obliges disclosure; or
    4. your overriding duty to the court and to the administration of justice demand disclosure.

  15. Preserve legal professional privilege: only the client may waive this. It protects communications, oral and written, between professional legal advisers and their clients; and between those advisers and expert witnesses in connection with the giving of legal advice, or in connection with, or in contemplation of, legal proceedings and for the purposes of those proceedings.

  16. Comply with the FIRMS Good Practice Guide and with the Guidelines for mass spectrometric isotope ratio measurements issued by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
  • Adapted from the UK Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners’ Code of Conduct and as adapted by the England and Wales Forensic Science Regulator.