Professional conduct and complaints procedures

Maintaining standards in practice and professional ethics

CIfA's accredited members (PCIfA, ACIfA and MCIfA) and Registered Organisations have agreed to be bound by an ethical code, have demonstrated necessary technical and ethical competence, and are subject to the oversight of peers.

Our professional conduct process and its sanctions provide that oversight, underpinning an institute’s primary function of public and consumer protection, ensuring that clients and society in general receive the best possible service from the profession. In fulfilling this role, the Institute also protects the reputation of the remainder of its membership.

It is not just public or clients who may raise allegations. It is important that individuals and/or organisations are able to raise their concerns with CIfA if they believe our members/archaeologists and/or Registered Organisations have failed to comply with the Code of conduct (PDF file) and/or supporting regulations.

Complaints or allegations are dealt with in accordance with the Regulations for professional conduct (PDF file) and RO complaints procedure (PDF file)

Complaints can also be made against CIfA which can come about from dissatisfaction about any aspect of CIfA’s services, including actions of a member of staff or individual member of the Board of Directors or Advisory Council.

Making a complaint or allegation

Complaints or allegations can be raised in three different ways:

All cases need supporting evidence to proceed. For example, it may be photographic evidence, or copies of documents.

CIfA's official language is English.

The first assessment stage of reviewing any allegation is for the Institute to decide whether the matter could be more appropriately resolved by discussion amongst parties, or perhaps arbitration or mediation. If not there must be sufficient evidence to proceed. CIfA will not get involved in contractual or professional disputes, only allegations of misconduct for individuals or complaints brought against Registered Organisations.

Allegations and complaints are judged against the Code of conduct (PDF file) and the other regulations (PDF file). The complainant needs to identify the relevant principle(s) and rule(s) that have allegedly been breached. For example ‘Code of conduct Principle 1 Rule 1.3 A member shall not offer advice, make a public statement, or give legal testimony involving archaeological matters, without being as thoroughly informed on the matters concerned as might reasonably be expected’, or another example 'clause 25 of the Code of approved practices for the regulation of contractual arrangements in archaeology – a member embarking upon fieldwork will secure the permission of the landowner and tenant as appropriate, and of any others with rights or responsibilities for the land and its safekeeping'.

Further Guidance is available in the following PDF document:

The professional conduct process

Once an allegation has been received and accepted the professional conduct process is carried out in accordance with the Regulations for professional conduct (PDF file) in the case of an allegation against a member, or the Registered Organisation complaints procedure in the RO complaints procedure (PDF file) In the case of the Regulations for professional conduct (PDF file) the stages are:

  • stage 1 – preliminary assessment of the allegation and the evidence received
  • stage 2 – initial investigation
  • stage 3 – sanctions
  • stage 4 – appeal
  • stage 5 - reporting and review

For a complaint against a Registered Organisation the procedure is documented in the RO complaints procedure (PDF file)

The Registration Committee (Organisations)’s complaints procedure is a five stage process:

  • Stage 1: an assessment either of whether a complaint is frivolous or vexatious, is appropriate for the Registration Committee (Organisations)’s complaints procedure or whether
  • Stage 2: an investigation by a duly appointed Registered Organisation complaints panel of a formal allegation to determine the evidence for and against the allegation and record their findings, make recommendation to Registration Committee (Organisations) Committee
  • Stage 3: Review of Registered Organisation complaints panel report by the Registration Committee (Organisations) and agreement of proposed sanctions or determination of other actions
  • Stage 4: appeal process
  • Stage 5: reporting and review

Members of the Institute will be appointed to carry out the roles of an investigator or member of a professional conduct panel. In all cases the member must ensure that the do not have a potentially prejudicial interest in the matter they are appointed to consider.

Dissemination of complaints and allegations

The Institute will normally arrange for a review of allegations annually by CIfA staff and a lay person (who is not a member of the Institute), and publishes an account of the number and nature of cases brought including advisory recommendation.

Formal review of CIfA’s professional conduct procedures:

  • 2016 - TA103 (PDF file)
  • 2015 – TA98 and TA100 (PDF file)
  • 2014 – TA95 (PDF file)
  • 2013 – TA92 (PDF file) and TA94 (PDF file)
  • 2012 – TA89 (PDF file)
  • 2011 – TA85 (PDF file)
  • 2010 – TA83 (PDF file)
  • 2009 – TA73 (PDF file)
  • 2006 – TA62 (PDF file)

Summary of complaints and allegations received for annual report:

Complaints against CIfA

A complaint against CIfA can come about from dissatisfaction about any aspect of CIfA’s services, including actions of a member of staff or individual member of the Board of Directors or Advisory Council. A complaint should be submitted using the ‘Complaints against the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists’ form which is available below along with a copy of the complaints against CIfA procedure.

Form downloads

Allegation against an individual CIfA member

Complaint against a Registered Organisation

Complaint against CIfA

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
Power Steele Building, Wessex Hall
Whiteknights Road, Earley,
Reading RG6 6DE

0118 966 2841
admin [at]