Conflict of Interest Code of Practice for Board Members

Download the Conflict of Interest Code of Practice


The purpose of this Code of Practice is to provide guidance on managing conflicts of interest, real or potential, focused on the operation of the International Bureau for Epilepsy’s (IBE’s) Board and to guide day-to-day practice.

To meet its objective to set the high standards of governance, IBE wishes to meet the highest standards of quality and integrity in setting priorities, its funding processes and in the development of policy or position statements.

IBE has a duty to ensure that the development of policy in all areas of its work and the assessment of applications for funding (whether through grants, bursaries or other funding avenues) are carried out objectively and impartially.

The Code of Practice

  1. Responsibility of the Chair
  1. To ensure that each Member of the Board is provided the opportunity to be heard and that all views are considered fairly and not ignored.
  2. To ensure that any significant differences of opinion among the Members of the Board are fully considered and discussed. If agreement cannot be reached, this should be accurately recorded in the minutes.
  3. To ensure that the Secretary General records the proceedings of Board meetings accurately, to show how the Board reached each of its decisions.
  4. To ensure that the Board acts in accordance with this code.
  1. Rights and responsibilities of Members of the Board
  1. Members should make sure the work of the Board is carried out objectively and with an open mind. This includes the setting of priorities, the development of policy, the assessment of applications for funding, the awarding of prizes and the selection of bursary recipients.
  2. Members of the Board are elected as individuals to fulfil the role of the committee, not as representatives of their profession, employer or interest group. They have a duty to act in the interests of IBE.
  3. Where Members declare an organisation’s views rather than a personal view, they should make that clear at the time they express such a view.
  4. Members are free to question and comment on the information provided and on other Members’ views.
  5. If a Member believes that the Board’s work is not sufficiently careful or thorough they have the right to ask that their concerns be recorded in the minutes.
  1. Committee discussions, papers and correspondence are strictly confidential. Therefore:
  1. Papers must not be circulated or discussed outside the Board.
  2. Papers should be kept secure and appropriately disposed of when no longer required.
  3. The discussions and work of the Board should not be discussed with applicants or potential recipients of awards, funding or bursaries.
  4. Members’ comments will be treated as confidential by both IBE’s staff and other members of the Board.
  1. Automatic exclusion from taking part in decisions where there is a conflict of interest
  1. Members must leave the meeting when discussion concerns a proposal, project, award, grant, prize or bursary to which they are directly connected. They must not take part in the discussion.
  2. A Member will, normally, be considered directly connected with a proposal if they are:
    1. the only applicant or possible recipient; or
    2. a joint applicant or possible recipient working with others or named in the proposal; or
    3. a relative of one of the grant applicants or possible recipients (“relative” for this purpose includes, but is not limited to, spouse or partner, children, siblings and parents); or
    4. a colleague, friend or business partner of an applicant or possible recipient.
  3. Members may not take part in any decisions taken in relation to such a grant proposal and, in some circumstances at the discretion of the Chair or Vice Chair (where the potential for conflict involves the Chair), having consulted with the Management Committee, may not receive any papers relating to it.
  4. For the avoidance of doubt, this means they are absent from discussion for the entire relevant section of the meeting.
  5. Members should not discuss applications or proposals with applicants or interested parties. Any such approaches should be referred to or carried out by IBE staff.
  1. Exclusion at IBE’s discretion
  1. At the discretion of the Chair, following consultation with the Management Committee, Members may be excluded from Board discussions or limited in how they can take part in discussions.
  2. This applies in situations including where a grant proposal or the giving of a prize, award, grant or bursary with which they are indirectly connected is being discussed.
  3. If a Member becomes aware of anything that may cause, or be seen to cause, a conflict of interest of any kind, they must tell the Secretary General before the meeting or as soon as possible in the meeting. The possible conflict of interest can be as described above or of any other kind.
  4. The Chair, in consultation with the Management Committee, will determine whether the individual should:
    1. be allowed to take a full part in the meeting; or
    2. be allowed to take a full part in the meeting but not comment on the issue being discussed; or
    3. be allowed to comment on the issue being discussed but not take part in the decision-taking; or
    4. leave the relevant part of the meeting.
  1. Cases of uncertainty
  1. If a Member is in any doubt about the relevance of an interest that he or she has, it should be mentioned to the Secretary General before the meeting or, if not possible, as soon as the potential conflict becomes apparent at the meeting. The Secretary General will consult as necessary and the Chair, or the Vice-Chair if the Chair is conflicted, shall take a decision.
  1. Withdrawing from discussion or decision making
  1. For the avoidance of doubt, when any individual is required to withdraw from any discussion or decision due to a conflict of interest, they should physically leave the room in which the discussion is taking place.
  1. Raising concerns about the conflicts of interests of other individuals
  1. A Member who is concerned about another Member’s, or a member of staff’s, potential or actual conflicts of interest should raise the matter with the Chair or Secretary General of the Board.
  1. Impact on the quorum
  1. In accordance with the Constitution, the Board must have a quorum of Members present in order to make decisions.
  2. Any Member who withdraws from any decision through the application of this code cannot be counted in the quorum for that Board.
  3. If the Meeting then becomes temporarily inquorate, decisions that require a motion or vote on the agenda item, or items, being considered at that point cannot be taken. The committee should postpone taking a decision on that agenda item, or items, until it meets the quorum requirement.
  4. In any following meeting to discuss the issue, the same Members must again withdraw from the discussion and decision.
  1. Deciding priorities
  1. The main priorities for IBE programs are guided by the Constitution and Bylaws. These are:
    1. To make epilepsy a health priority worldwide;
    2. To ensure that the human and civil rights of people with epilepsy are enhanced and protected worldwide;
    3. To ensure that people with epilepsy are empowered to maximise quality of life;
    4. To promote research into prevention, treatment, care and consequences of epilepsy.
  2. IBE’s Strategic Plan provide further guidance for deciding on funding priorities.
  3. Restrictions on any specific funding for projects or programmes will also provide further guidance.
  4. IBE’s Board, regional committees, task forces and commissions may be asked to advise on priorities.
  5. Board members, regional committee members and members of task forces and commissions involved in advising on priorities, and who have professional or other interests in the area under discussion, should ensure that such interest is declared. It may be considered appropriate for them to withdraw from the discussion in line with the Code of Practice.
  6. The above principles and the Code of Practice should be followed.
  1. Awarding Bursaries and Prizes
  2. All grants, bursaries and prizes should be promoted to the widest possible audience to ensure as many people as possible are aware of, and can apply for, the funds.
  3. All members of the relevant award, grant or bursary committee or panel should use a structured and objective assessment form in deciding on award, grant and bursary recipients.
  4. If a member of an award, grant or bursary committee or panel is connected to any nominee for any grant, bursary or prize, they must follow the guidelines in the Code of Practice regarding taking part in any decisions or discussions.
  5. If a Member of the IBE Board, or his or her organisation, may benefit from an award or is directly connected to an applicant, (as in paragraph 4b), the final decision must be referred to the Board.
  1. Unsolicited requests and applications
  1. IBE does not consider unsolicited requests or applications for funding or grants.
  2. If an unsolicited application for grant funding is received and thought worthwhile, it may be considered when future priorities are being discussed.
  3. Joint funding of projects
  4. Where IBE is considering the joint funding of projects with another organisation, grant agency or other body, IBE’s Conflict of Interest Policy and Code of Practice should apply to the entire process, as a minimum standard.
  5. Review
  6. The Board will review this Code of Practice at least every four years.
  7. All amendments to this Policy must approved by the Board.