Professional Ethics Committee Definition

The Association of Translation Companies has established an Ethics Committee to examine and rule on issues of business practice that bring the Association and the profession into disrepute and which are brought to the attention of the Association by either customers, freelance translators, other members or third party suppliers.
The purpose of the Committee is to enforce the highest standards of business ethics among member companies and to complement the existing ATC Code of Professional Conduct. It will have the power to expel members who are found to have broken the Code of Professional Conduct.

1. Committee Composition
The Ethics Committee shall consist of representatives drawn from three full members of the Association. These members shall be nominated by the Council to serve for a twelve month period from the date of the Annual General Meeting. Membership of the Ethics Committee may be renewed at succeeding Annual General Meetings. The Council will also nominate representatives of up to three other member companies to act as deputies.

2. Conflicts of Interest
Where a member of the main Committee is the subject of an issue brought to the attention of the Committee, that member shall be replaced by one of the deputies for the examination of and ruling of that particular complaint.

3. Who can ask for the intervention of the Committee?
The services of the Committee shall be open to customers, freelance translators, other members of the Association or third party suppliers to individual members.

4. Under what circumstances would the Committee be asked to rule?
Any apparent breach of the Association's Code of Professional Conduct or activity deemed to bring the Association and its membership into disrepute could result in the Committee being asked to make a ruling.

5. Evidence
Before ruling on an issue, the Committee must be provided with evidence of the disreputed practice by the complainant (copies of letters, faxes, etc.). This material will be passed to the Committee by the Secretary, who will act as link point between the complainant, member concerned and the Committee.

6. Rights of the Member
On receipt of a complaint against a member involving a matter of ethical behaviour, the Secretary shall write to the member concerned and pass on any evidence that forms the basis of the complaint. The member company will be asked to submit in writing a response to the complaint within one week and this will be passed on to the members of the Committee.

7. Consideration of the Evidence
The Committee will review all the evidence within one week of receiving it and submit a ruling, based on a majority verdict, in writing. The Secretary will inform the complainant and the member concerned of the outcome.

8. Rights of Appeal
Members judged to have breached ethical standards of practice that bring the Association into disrepute shall have a right to make representations to the full Council who must then be provided with all the evidence on which the ruling was made by the Ethics Committee. A final decision will be taken by a simple majority vote of the Council, provided a quorum is present.

9. Powers of the Committee
The Committee will have the power to expel from the Association any member found to have breached ethical standards of business behaviour as defined under Point 4. A decision to expel a member will result in:

  • The whole membership being informed
  • The Secretaries of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and the Institute of Linguists being notified of the expulsion
  • The Secretary of the EUATC being informed of the expulsion and an exhortation that the expulsion be made known to all national constituent associations making up the EUATC
  • Removal of the member’s details from any directory published by the Association. All those purchasers that have previously been sent a copy of the directory by the Association will also be notified
  • Details of the expulsion will also be passed on to other professional translation groupings elsewhere in the world

10. Refunds
An expelled member company will be not be entitled to have any part of its membership subscription refunded.



Membership of an Ethics Committee is open to any member of the ATC council.  A new committee will be formed for each case to be considered.  A committee is formed once a breach of the ATC’s Code of Professional Conduct appears to have been made and, a hearing is triggered on receipt of evidence supplied by fellow members of the ATC, other members of the language industry or an LSPs customer/customers.


An Ethics Committee panel will consist of three individuals, one of whom will be elected by the other two to act as chair of the panel.  The ATC Secretariat will support the Committee and minute the proceedings and outcome.


Before a council member can sit on the Ethics Committee, a declaration must be signed to show that the matter has not been pre-judged and that there is no prejudicial interest. 

Should it be found at a later date that there was a prejudicial interest and a declaration has been signed to say there was none, that member company will face immediate expulsion from the Association on a two thirds majority vote of the Council.


The following are examples of what might lead to a council member being barred from sitting on an Ethics Committee panel.

  1. A member wishing to sit on the committee, whose company tendered unsuccessfully for a contract, which is the subject of the complaint and has created an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct. Any individual associated with a member company in such a situation will be deemed to have a prejudicial interest in the matter and will, therefore, be barred from sitting on an Ethics Committee panel.
  2. A member who has expressed an opinion in an open forum; had opinions reported in the media; expressed a view on any media platform (such as a Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.), will be deemed to have prejudicial interest in the matter and will, therefore, be barred from sitting on an Ethics Committee panel.
  3. A member who is related to an individual who is subject to the scrutiny of an Ethics Committee hearing will be barred from sitting on the panel.
  4. An individual, whose company has, in the last 18 months, worked for a company subject to an Ethics Committee hearing, will be barred from sitting on the panel.
  5. In cases where there may be doubt whether a prejudicial interest exists, the matter will be decided on a majority vote of the full council either in person or via individual email sent to the General Secretary.


A complaint that a breach of the ATC’s Code of Professional Conduct has been committed can be triggered by a fellow member of the ATC, third parties in the profession (individually or as a group) or customers and must be supported by documented evidence sent to the ATC Secretariat.


Evidence supplied to the Secretariat will be scrutinised by the General Secretary to assess whether there has been a prima facie breach. If that assessment indicates that there is a case to answer, the evidence will be forwarded to the member against whom the complaint has been made and who must acknowledge receipt within 48 hours.


A member asked to respond to written evidence will have 28 days to do so in writing, or may opt to answer the allegations in person before an Ethics Committee panel.


Once a response is received from a member subject to a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct complaint, it will be forwarded within 24 hours to the Ethics Committee panel members. They will be given a fortnight to consider whether there is a case to answer or not. If the panel considers that the matter needs to be heard, the Chair of the panel will instruct the Secretariat to convene a formal hearing to which representatives of the member company will be invited to give oral evidence. A date for the hearing should be fixed within a maximum of 28 days.


The panel can determine a case immediately or retire to decide the outcome having heard the oral evidence from representatives of the member subject to the complaint and listened to answers to their questions.  Where possible this should be completed on the same day as the panel meets.  However, where the panel considers it needs more time to consider its decision, they will be given one week to come to a conclusion, during which time they may only confer among themselves.

The decision of the panel will be provided in writing to the complainant(s) first and circulated one day later to all members of the ATC.

The decision of the panel is final.





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