Conflict of Interest Policy

Application

All members of the University and its subsidiaries.

Purpose

To ensure that members making decisions on behalf of the University or its subsidiaries disclose and manage any conflict of interest they may have, and act in a manner consistent with their responsibilities to the University or its subsidiaries (as the case may be) and the public.

Background

The University and its subsidiaries encourage their members to have diverse interests and contacts across the local, national and international communities. Collaborations between members and outside bodies are, generally speaking, both in the public interest and beneficial to the University and its subsidiaries.

It is possible however, that a member’s interests may at times give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest with their role and responsibilities at the University or at its subsidiaries.

Ensuring that conflicts of interest are properly managed is crucial to reducing legal and reputational risk and demonstrating the integrity of individual members and of the University and its subsidiaries. Conflicts of interest that are not properly managed have the potential to damage the reputation of individual members, the University's subsidiaries and of the University as a whole.

Note - There are additional policy documents listed below in Key Relevant Documents that support the implementation and interpretation of this policy in areas where conflicts of interest are most likely to arise. In the event that another policy document provides inconsistent direction in relation to conflicts of interest, this policy will prevail.

Policy

Principles

The guiding principles for the identification and management of conflicts of interest in any situation are:

1. Members acting on behalf of the University or its subsidiaries must be seen at all times to behave in an impartial and transparent manner.

2. It is important to understand that the existence of a conflict of interest does not necessarily imply wrong-doing on the part of any person. However, any interests which could give rise to a conflict of interest must be disclosed.

3. Members need to be alert to situations in which they, or the people that they manage or supervise, may have a conflict of interest and ensure that the situation is recognised and handled appropriately.

4. Conflicts of interest must be dealt with quickly and transparently, that is they must be:

  • acknowledged
  • disclosed
  • put on record, where appropriate, and
  • effectively managed or avoided

5. If a member has any doubt as to whether a conflict of interest exists, they must disclose the matter to their manager or supervisor.

6. Members must consider how an impartial observer might reasonably perceive a conflict of interest situation or relationship, whether or not any wrong-doing is involved.

7. Conflicts of interest may raise complex issues and members and their managers or supervisors must judge each situation that arises in a prudent manner.

8. Disclosure of conflicts of interest may involve disclosing personal information. This information must be handled with due regard to the privacy of the individual concerned.

9. If a person has a conflict of interest in the matter being considered, they must not take part in any discussion or decision on the matter giving rise to the conflict unless the chair / relevant manager decides otherwise.

10. However, a person who has a direct or indirect financial interest in the matter being considered must not take part in any decision about the matter.

Identification and effective management of conflicts of interest

11. Members must identify and disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest that may affect, or may be seen to affect, their impartiality when acting on behalf of the University or its subsidiaries.

12. Each conflict of interest situation must be dealt with as soon as reasonably practicable after it is identified.

13. Conflicts of interest must be disclosed to the appropriate person in the circumstances (see Conflict of Interest Procedures). The appropriate person in most circumstances will be the member's immediate manager or supervisor, or in the case of committees, the chair.

14. The situation must then be reviewed, managed and recorded by the relevant manager or chair in a manner that is appropriate to the circumstances.

15. Managers and supervisors across the University and at UniServices must help to build awareness of conflict of interest situations, and support those who report to them to comply with their obligations under this policy.

Register of interests

16. All conflicts of interest and relevant manager responses are to be submitted for inclusion in the relevant conflicts of interest register maintained for the University by the Registrar or delegate or for UniServices by the Chief Executive Officer or delegate; or for the other subsidiaries by the Chief Executive Officer equivalent or delegate.

Definitions

The following definitions apply to this document:

Chair is the nominated chairperson of the committee

Chief Executive Officer means the Chief Executive Officer of UniServices

Committee means a group of people constituted as a committee by either the Vice-Chancellor or delegate or by the Chief Executive Officer or delegate to carry out duties in accordance with specified terms of reference, and includes any board or committee constituted by a board

Conflict of interest exists where the responsibilities of a member of the University or its suvsidiaries are, or could be, affected by some other personal, financial or academic interest or duty that the member may have in relation to a particular matter or person.

The term includes actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest.

Member(s) includes all Council members, members of committees and boards, staff members, honorary and adjunct appointees, students, contractors, subcontractors, consultants, associates and business partners of either the University or UniServices (as the case may be).

Relationship means a connection that could affect how other people view a member’s impartiality.

Note - For example, if the matter involves or affects a family member, or an organisation to which the member belongs, or a business of which the member, or a close associate, is an employee/ shareholder.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University, or its subsidiaries, on a full or part time basis.

UniServices means Auckland UniServices Ltd.

University means the University of Auckland.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: DVC (Operations) & Registrar
Content manager: Manager, Risk Office
Approved by: Vice-Chancellor
Date approved: April 2021
Review date: April 2024