Conflict of Interest Procedures


Application


 

All members of the University or UniServices

Purpose


 

These procedures support the Conflict of Interest Policy and provide members clear direction for dealing with predictable conflict of interest situations, as well as a process for dealing with more difficult situations. 

The procedures also detail the action to be taken following disclosure of a conflict of interest.

The supporting Conflict of Interest Guidelines also offer advice on frequently asked questions and case studies. 

Background


 

The University, as a public sector organisation, and UniServices as its subsidiary, are guided by principles of: 

  • integrity
  • honesty
  • transparency
  • openness
  • independence
  • good faith
  • service to the public 

in the way each conducts its dealings. 

Conflicts of interest can undermine these principles if they lead, or appear to lead, to decisions or actions that are biased, unreasonable or unfair, or if decisions made appear to have been influenced by the interests of the member(s) making them. 

Conflicts of interest may vary in both nature and impact, and those concerned with managing them must judge each situation that arises in a prudent manner. The main responsibilities are: 

  • members – identifying and disclosing a conflict of interest
  • managers – deciding what action is to be taken
  • managers – dealing with breaches of policy 

In most situations, members will readily recognise a conflict of interest and will want to ensure that there can be no perception that their objectivity may be compromised, or that they may appear to be biased when making decisions on behalf of the University or UniServices as the case may be. 

In many cases potential conflicts of interest will be easily avoided or resolved by the individual concerned or through discussion with their manager.

Procedures


 

Management responsibilities 

1.    Managers across the University and UniServices have a responsibility to help staff members to comply with their obligations under this policy by:

  • building general awareness of the risks of conflicts of interest inherent in the work of the people they manage
  • making staff members aware of the policy and procedures regarding conflicts of interest
  • advising and directing staff members as necessary about appropriate ways to manage any conflict of interest
  • ensuring that conflicts of interest involving their staff members are managed appropriately
  • assisting any staff member who discloses a conflict of interest to develop an appropriate strategy to manage the situation
  • reviewing and endorsing plans to manage any conflict of interest
  • monitoring the work of their staff members and the risks associated with a conflict of interest 

Individual responsibilities 

2.    In relation to teaching, academic supervision and assessment of students, staff members must disclose to their academic head any personal or financial relationship that may lead to a conflict of interest 

3.    Where such a relationship exists, the staff member is not to have any assessment responsibility, nor act as a supervisor or as an advisor to the student 

4.    In relation to employment, staff members must disclose to their manager any personal or financial relationship with another person, where the staff member has responsibility for or may directly influence decisions, including, but not limited to, decisions about the appointment, promotion, remuneration/reward, leave or discipline of that other person 

5.    Staff members must disclose to their manager any relationship to suppliers or potential suppliers of goods or services to the University or UniServices that may conflict with the  discharge of their University duties or responsibilities or their UniServices’ duties or responsibilities. 

6.    In relation to committee membership, members are to disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest to the chair who will then decide on the appropriate course of action 

Managing a conflict of interest situation 

7.    As soon as a member becomes aware that they have a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest in the process of making a decision in their role at the University or UniServices, they must declare it to their immediate manager 

8.    If the member’s manager has a conflict of interest in the matter, the member must disclose the conflict of interest to the next higher level of authority 

9.    The relevant manager, in consultation with the member who has disclosed the conflict of interest, must determine whether a conflict of interest exists and, if so, what further action needs to be taken 

10. If the relevant manager decides that further action needs to be taken, the member must have no involvement, or further involvement, in the matter giving rise to the conflict of interest unless the manager decides otherwise  

11. Where it is determined that further action needs to be taken, the manager, in consultation with the member will decide on a course of action to manage or avoid the conflict of interest  

12. Any decisions and action taken must be recorded in writing and filed by the relevant manager on the conflicts of interest register 

13. If the member does not agree with the decision of their manager they may raise the matter with the relevant dean, service division director or UniServices general manager

14. The decision and action is to be recorded in the University or Uniservices conflicts of interest register

15. To avoid doubt, the convenor of a meeting other than a committee meeting must deal with and record any conflict of interest that arises in the same manner as a manager would do 

Managing the conflicts of interest register

16. All conflicts of interest that require further action by managers are to be submitted to the relevant conflicts of interest register using the required on-line form

17. Submissions to the conflicts of interest register by managers are to contain: 

  • name of the person/ person(s) involved
  • the nature of the disclosure
  • the decisions taken on the disclosure by the relevant academic head or manager
  • any subsequent action taken on the issue 

Committee meetings

18. All committee meeting agendas are to contain an item requiring the declaration by members of the committee of any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest with regard to any item on that agenda

19. Committee members must disclose to the chair any conflict of interest with regard to any item on the agenda as soon as possible and in all cases, before that item is dealt with by the committee

20. The minutes must record any conflict of interest declared before, or arising during the meeting and how the conflict was dealt with

21. Action/ decisions taken by a committee chair in relation to disclosure of conflict of interest before or during a committee meeting must also be recorded in the minutes of the relevant meeting

22. Chairs are required to ensure that any conflicts of interest dealt with in a meeting are recorded in the minutes of that committee meeting. Where a conflict of interest is disclosed and dealt with, a copy of the minutes of the committee meeting must be forwarded to the Registrar or delegate, in the case of university committees, or the Chief Executive Officer or delegate, in the case of UniServices committees

Definitions


 

For the purpose of this document: 

Academic head covers heads of departments, schools and other teaching and research units at Level 3 in the University Organisation Structure 

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 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 UniServices 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 conflict of interest includes any actual, potential or perceived conflict 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 the 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 UniServices on a full or part time basis This includes permanent, fixed-term pr casual staff members.

UniServices  general  manager  refers  to  members  of  the  UniServices  Executive

Management Team, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer 

University means the University of Auckland

Document management and control


Owner: DVC (Operations) and Registrar

Content manager: General Counsel 

Approved by: Council

Date approved: 19 Oct 2016

Review date: 19 Oct 2019