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Professional conduct FAQs

1. In what circumstances should I consider making a complaint against an RTPI member?

All Institute members are required to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct. If you feel that a member has breached the Code then you should consider making a complaint to the Institute. The Code of Professional Conduct requires (amongst other things) that all members should: act with competence, honesty and integrity; give their impartial professional judgement to the best of their ability; not discriminate on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, creed, religion, disability or age and seek to eliminate any discrimination by others; and not bring the Royal Town Planning Institute into disrepute.

2. Who do I complain to?

All complaints should be sent to the Institute's offices, marked for the attention of the Complaints Investigator.

3. How are complaints about RTPI members considered?

The Institute has a Conduct and Discipline Panel that investigates whether a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct has taken place. This Panel meets four times a year and decisions can normally only take place at those meetings. The Complaints Investigator will collect together information needed and present it to the Conduct and Discipline Panel.

4. Who are the members of the Conduct and Discipline Panel?

The Conduct and Discipline Panel comprises of eight people: a Chair and Vice Chair, both of whom are required to be corporate members of the Institute; up to three additional RTPI members, at least one of whom will be a Legal Member or Legal Associate; up to three lay people. If members of the Panel know a member who has had a complaint made about him or her, they are required to declare an interest and not take part in the discussion concerning that complaint.

5. What information is needed?

In order to examine the matter fully, the Panel will want to see copies of all the relevant documents relating to the issue. This may include copies of a planning application, decision, committee report or any letters. They will also want to see documents relating to any other complaints made, perhaps to a local authority, Local Government Ombudsman or other tribunal. Whilst the findings of these organisations or tribunals may help the Panel come to a decision, it is important to note that they will form only a part of the information considered and are unlikely to have addressed the issue of whether or not a member has contravened the Code of Professional Conduct.

6. What issues are the RTPI unable to investigate?

The Institute is unable to: review decisions of local authorities; or investigate allegations of poor administration by local planning authorities or other organisations. In addition, the Institute will not normally investigate complaints that are more appropriately dealt with through the courts, an Employment Tribunal, the Local Government Ombudsman or other tribunal. Complainants should look to these proceedings first if they are appropriate.

7. What happens to my complaint?

Your complaint will normally be referred to the member concerned. The Panel will want to see information provided by both the member and the complainant. Each party will normally have the opportunity to comment on the other person's submissions.

8. How long will it take?

The complaints process is quite a lengthy procedure. Once the Panel has decided to investigate a complaint it will take several months to complete the process. The average length of time taken to investigate a complaint fully is approximately seven months.

9. What feedback should I expect?

You will be notified of all decisions made on the complaint including whether the Panel intends to investigate the matter and whether a breach of the Code has been found.

10. What disciplinary action can be taken?

If the Conduct and Discipline Panel finds that a member has breached the Code of Professional Conduct it can: • warn the member as to his or her future conduct; or • reprimand the member; or • suspend the member from membership of the Chartered Institute for such period as the Council as determine; or • terminate the member's membership of the Chartered Institute forthwith or from such date as the Council shall specify. The level of disciplinary action taken will depend on the severity of the breach of the Code. The Panel will also decide whether to name a member in any publicity it makes when a breach of the Code is found.

11. Can I claim financial compensation?

The Institute is not able to provide any financial compensation for the actions of its members even if a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct has been found.

12.What do I do if I disagree with the decision of the Conduct and Discipline Panel?

The Panel takes its responsibility in dealing with all complaints very seriously. The Institute has given authority to the Panel to investigate all complaints against its members and, therefore, there is no additional opportunity to seek further redress through the Institute. If further substantial information on a matter is provided the Panel may choose to investigate a matter again. Where the Panel has agreed that a breach of the Code has been found and a decision is made to discipline a member, a right of appeal exists for the member.