1. The Society of Forensic Engineers & Scientists (hereafter “SFES”) members are professionals, that is, people who by virtue of training and experience have expert knowledge in their area of specialization, knowledge significantly beyond that held by the lay person. SFES members as forensic professionals supply their expert knowledge as consultants to attorneys and others concerned with dispute resolution. Usually, SFES members will be retained and paid by one party to a dispute but are at the same time professionally obligated to be uninfluenced by this in all opinions expressed publicly. There are thus ethical issues which are unique to forensic professional practice and which create the need for a Code of Ethics for The Society of Forensic Engineers & Scientists.
2. The purposes of this Code of Ethics are:
3. To assist SFES members in maintaining the highest levels of professional standards.
4.To provide guidelines for resolving disputes concerning ethics of SFES members.
Guidelines for Professional Practice
1. Actions of SFES members shall always be consistent with the Bylaws of the Society. This means that such actions shall always be consistent with the highest level of professional standards.
2. SFES members shall not misrepresent their professional qualifications.
3. SFES members shall not misrepresent facts, information, test methods, data, conclusions, opinions, etc.
4. SFES members shall not be advocates.
5. Actions of SFES members shall always be consistent with an intact client-consultant relationship of confidentiality until and unless that relationship is changed by the client’s instructions to the contrary, the giving of testimony under oath, or the order of a duly constituted judicial authority.
6. SFES members shall act to preserve physical evidence and evidence information while it is in their control.
Guidelines for Resolution of Disputes Concerning Ethics of SFES Members
1. Any SFES member or other person (hereafter “complainant”) believing that a significant breach of professional ethics, whether or not specifically addressed in this Code of Ethics, has been committed by an SFES member (hereafter “respondent”) shall be encouraged to state the facts of the matter in writing (hereafter “the complaint”) to the SFES President for consideration and possible action by the SFES Executive Committee consistent with these guidelines. If the complaint is found appropriate for action by SFES, the SFES Executive Committee may informally investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint.
2. Upon receipt of such a complaint, at its discretion, The SFES Executive Committee may designate an ad hoc mediation committee. The committee may at its discretion communicate with all parties for clarification of the complaint.
3. The committee shall then provide the respondent with a copy of the complaint, including the identity of the complainant, and ask for a written response.
4. The committee shall then attempt by discussion with the involved parties to resolve the complaint to the mutual satisfaction of the parties and the committee consistent with this Code of Ethics in its entirety. If this attempt is successful, the committee shall so report to the Executive Committee.
5. If this is not possible, the committee shall submit to the Executive Committee a written report on the complaint and its actions concerning it, including recommendations for action by the SFES.
6. For breaches of this Code of Ethics sufficiently serious in the committee’s opinion, these recommendations for action may include censure by the SFES, suspension for a designated period of time, or permanent expulsion. Any such recommendation for action shall, before being put into effect, receive approval by a 2/3 majority of the Executive Committee and by a 2/3 majority of those members present and voting at a regular meeting of SFES at which a quorum is present.
7. SFES officers and other involved members shall resolve such complaints within the SFES, involving as few people as possible, and with a minimum of publicity.
Guidelines for Interpretation of this Code of Ethics
1. Any SFES member or other person may request interpretation, clarification or amplification of any part of this Code of Ethics. Such requests may be general in nature or may refer to a particular hypothetical or real situation. Such requests shall be submitted in writing to the Chairperson of the SFES Ethics Committee.
2. The SFES Ethics Committee, in consultation with other SFES members at the discretion of its Chairperson, shall prepare a written response to such a request and submit it to the Executive Committee for approval. After approval by the Executive Committee, the response shall be presented for discussion at a regular meeting of the SFES. If approved by a majority of those members present and voting, the response shall become part of a permanent file of Code of Ethics interpretations to be made known to SFES members for their guidance and to be used as applicable in the resolution of complaints and about ethics involving SFES members. The response shall not, however, become part of this Code of Ethics.
Procedure for Adoption as Part of SFES, Binding Obligation on SFES Members Following Adoption
1. This Code of Ethics shall be submitted to a mail ballot of the SFES membership after approval by the Executive Committee and open discussion by the membership at two or more regular meetings of the SFES where a quorum is present.
2. If approved by a 2/3 majority of members voting in said mail Ballot, this Code of Ethics shall be adopted as The Code of Ethics referred to in the SFES Bylaws. Compliance with this Code of Ethics shall thereafter be a binding obligation upon each member of SFES.
Adopted March 9, 1999