Ethics Rules and Ethical Considerations for DBA Members
PREFACE AND SCOPE
Membership in DBA is voluntary. By accepting membership, Members assume an obligation of self-discipline above and beyond the requirements of laws and regulations.
These Ethical Rules and Ethical Considerations provide statements of norms, expressing in general terms the standards of professional conduct expected of Members in their relationships with the public, with the legal system, the regulatory bodies governing debt buyers, the profession, and with other Members and non-members within the profession.
The "Ethical Considerations" are aspirational in character and represent the objectives toward which every Member should strive. They constitute a body of principles upon which Members can rely for guidance in many specific situations.
The Ethical Rules, unlike the Ethical Considerations, are mandatory in character for all DBA Members . The Ethical Rules state the minimum level of conduct below which no Member can fall without being subject to disciplinary action.
The Ethical Rules and Ethical Considerations are rules of reason. They should be interpreted with reference to the purposes ethical debt buying within a legal framework. Some of the rules are imperatives, cast in the terms "shall" or "shall not." These define proper conduct for purposes of discipline. Others, generally cast in the term "may," are permissive and define areas under the rules in which the member has discretion to exercise judgment. No disciplinary action should be taken when the Member chooses not to act or acts within the bounds of such discretion. Other rules define the nature of relationships between the Member and others. The rules are thus partly obligatory and disciplinary and partly constitutive and descriptive in that they define a Member's professional role. Many of the Ethical Considerations use the term "should" which does not add any additional obligation on the Member, but provides guidance for practicing in compliance with the rules.
The rules presuppose a larger legal context shaping the Member's role in the profession. That context includes laws and regulations relating to matters of licensure, laws defining specific obligations of Members, such as the FDCPA, and substantive and procedural law in general.
Compliance with the rules, as with all rules in an open society, depends primarily upon understanding and voluntary compliance, secondarily upon reinforcement by peer and public opinion, and finally, when necessary, upon enforcement through disciplinary proceedings. The rules do not, however, exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should inform a Member, for no worthwhile human activity can be completely defined by rules. The rules simply provide a framework for the ethical practice of our profession.
Failure to comply with an obligation or prohibition imposed by a rule is a basis for invoking the disciplinary process. The rules presuppose that disciplinary assessment of a Member's conduct will be made on the basis of the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of the conduct in question and in recognition of the fact that a Member often has to act upon uncertain or incomplete evidence of the situation. Moreover, the rules presuppose that whether or not discipline should be imposed for a violation, and the severity of a sanction, depend on all the circumstances, such as the willfulness and seriousness of the violation, extenuating factors, and whether there have been previous violations.
Violation of a rule might not itself give rise to disciplinary action against a Member unless the rule states that it is per se actionable, nor should it create any presumption in such a case that a duty has been breached. In addition, violation of a rule does not necessarily warrant any other non-disciplinary remedy, such as prohibiting a Member from attending a function or use of the DBA logo. The rules are designed to provide guidance and to provide a structure for regulating conduct through a disciplinary process. They shall not to used by anyone other than DBA and may not be used as a basis for civil liability as their sole purpose is to designate appropriate behavior within a membership organization. Furthermore, the purpose of the rules can be subverted when they are invoked by opposing parties as weapons. The fact that a rule is a just basis for a Member's self-assessment, or for sanctioning a Member under the administration of the DBA Ethics Committee (as hereinafter defined), does not imply that an antagonist in a collateral proceeding or transaction has standing to seek enforcement of the rule or that it is evidence of a wrongdoing.
This note Preface on Scope provides a general orientation. The text of each rule is authoritative.
A Member Should Assist in Maintaining the Integrity and Competence of the Receivables Management Profession
EC 1-1 A basic tenet of the ethical responsibility of Members is that every person in our society should be treated by Members with integrity and services should be rendered with competence. Maintaining the integrity and improving the competence of Members through training and other means to meet the highest standards is the ethical responsibility of every Member.
EC 1-2 The public should be protected from those who are not qualified as ethical employees of Members by reason of a deficiency in education or moral standards or of other relevant factors. To assure the maintenance of high moral and educational standards of Members and the profession, Members should affirmatively train, monitor, reward, and discipline their employees, assist the courts, governmental entities and other appropriate bodies in promulgating, enforcing, and improving legal standards applicable to the industry
EC 1-3 A member should recommend for admission to the DBA only those applicants with good reputations in the business community.
EC 1-4 A Member should, upon request, serve on and assist committees and boards having responsibility for the administration of the Ethical Rules.
EC 1-5 A Member should maintain high standards of professional conduct and should encourage fellow Members to do likewise. A Member’s staff should be dignified and refrain from all illegal and morally reprehensible conduct. Because of the industry’s perception to the public and the impact on the consumers it comes into contact with, even minor violations of law by a Member may tend to lessen public confidence in the profession. Obedience to law exemplifies respect for law. To Members especially, respect for the law should be more than a platitude.
ER 1-101. MAINTAINING INTEGRITY AND COMPETENCE OF THE PROFESSION
(A) A Member is subject to discipline if it has made a materially false statement in, or if it has deliberately failed to disclose a material fact requested in connection with, its application for admission to the DBA.
(B) A Member shall not further the application for admission to the DBA of another person known by it to be unqualified.
ER 1-102. MISCONDUCT
(A) A Member shall not:
- Violate an Ethical Rule.
- Circumvent an Ethical Rule through actions of another.
- Engage in illegal conduct involving moral turpitude.
- Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.
- Engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.
- Engage in any other conduct that materially and adversely reflects on the receivable management industry.
(B) A member shall comply with applicable law.
A Member Should Assist Obligors
EC 2-1 Members should assist obligors in recognizing their obligations because such obligations may not be self-revealing and often are not timely noticed. The need of the public is met only if they understand the rights they are afforded, the consequences if they breach, and the importance of seeking assistance. Hence, it is an important function of our profession to educate consumers in recognizing their obligations and understanding the alternatives available to them.,
EC 2-2 Members are not to provide any form of legal advice, even if they are members of the legal profession, unless they are engaged by that obligor or are otherwise permitted to by the applicable state bar association rules. Therefore, Members acting under proper auspices should encourage and participate in educational and public relations programs concerning our industry, including the operation of the legal system with particular reference to legal problems that frequently arise. Such educational programs should be motivated by a desire to benefit the public. Examples of permissible activities include preparation of institutional advertisements and professional articles for consumer publications and participation in seminars, lectures, and civic programs.
EC 2-3 A Member who writes or speaks for the purpose of educating members of the public should never imply that it is speaking on behalf of any other entity, including the DBA, unless specifically authorized to do so.
EC 2-4 The name under which a Member conducts its business should not mislead obligors concerning the identity, responsibility, and status of the Member, even if such name is permissible under the FDCPA or other state and federal statute.
EC 2-5 In order to avoid the possibility of misleading persons with whom he deals, a Member should be scrupulous in the representation of his professional status. He should not hold himself out as being a partner, attorney, officer or associate of a Member if he is not one in fact
ER 2-101. PUBLICITY
(A) A Member shall not, on its own behalf, or that of a partner, associate, or other Member affiliated with the Member, use, or participate in the use of, any form of communication, including direct mail solicitation, that contains any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, or unfair statement.
(B) Nothing contained in this rule shall prohibit a Member from communications in reputable publications intended for use by the receivable management or other business profession.
(C) A communication is false or misleading if it satisfies any of the following:
- Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law; or
- implies that the Member can take action by means prohibited by the FDCPA or other law;
(D) If a Member quotes a fee for a service to another Member or non-member, the service must be rendered for no more than the fee quoted in the sale contract.
(E) A Member shall not directly or indirectly compensate or give any thing of value to representatives of the press, radio, television, or other communication medium in anticipation of, or in return for professional publicity in a news item unless such payment is disclosed in such news item. The terms “paid advertisement” must appear on each page of any printed advertisement, or “this is a paid advertisement” must be spoken during any verbal story.
ER 2-102. SUGGESTION OF NEED OF LEGAL SERVICES
(A) A Member shall not provide legal advice to obligors unless they are a licensed attorney qualified to provide such legal advice and the providing of that legal advice is in compliance with applicable laws and rules. It is not a violation of this ER 2-102 to suggest to a obligor that they seek appropriate legal advice provided the advice does not recommend the taking or avoidance of any legal action by said obligor. A Member is always permitted, so long as permitted by applicable law, to notify a obligor of legal action it may take against the Obligor.
(B) A Member may speak publicly or write for publication on so long as the Member does not provide advice or espouse actions that would cause another Member or non-member to violate these ER’s.
A Member Should Preserve the Confidentiality of Obligors
EC 3-1 The proper functioning of the industry requires the preservation by the Member of confidential information of obligors and the profession in general. Obligors should feel confident that their confidential information will be protected. A Member should strive to implement the highest standards of information security policies, safety, and security plans and guidelines which meet guidelines set out by the FTC, and other state regulatory statutes and rules for the safeguarding privacy, and security of the personal information held by the member. Further, the member shall abide by all non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements with the parties with whom it has business dealings safeguarding the other parties’ proprietary business information and trade secrets.
EC 3-2 The obligation to protect confidences and secrets obviously does not preclude a Member from revealing information when consent is provided, when necessary to perform its business of collecting debt, when permitted by a Ethical Rule, or when required by law. It is a matter of common knowledge that the normal operation of an office exposes confidential information to employees of the office, particularly assistants and those having access to the files; and this obligates a Member to exercise care in selecting and training its employees so that the sanctity of all confidences and secrets of obligors may be protected. Professional duty should cause a Member to protect against the disclosure of any information by its employees inside or outside of the workplace that would disclose personal information about any obligor
EC 3-3 It is not improper for a Member to give, as allowed by law, limited information from its files to an outside agency necessary for statistical, bookkeeping, accounting, data processing, banking, printing, or other legitimate purposes, provided it exercises due care in the selection of the agency and warns the agency that the information must be kept confidential along with the execution of proper confidentiality agreements.
EC 3-4 The obligation of a Member to preserve the confidences and secrets of obligors continues after the termination of their relationship.
ER 3-101. PRESERVATION OF CONFIDENCES AND SECRETS OF AN OBLIGOR
A Member Should Represent the Industry Competently
EC 4-1 Because of its role in an obligor’s financial affairs, a Member should act with competence and proper care in dealing with obligors and their obligations. It should strive to become and remain proficient in its field and be competent to properly address issues which arise in connection with the ownership or collection of debts..
EC 4-2 A Member is aided in attaining and maintaining its competence by keeping abreast of current legal literature and developments, participating in education programs, understanding the uniqueness of issues found in particular areas of debt, such as medical, and by utilizing other available means. It has the additional ethical obligation to assist in improving the receivable management profession, and it may do so by participating in activities intended to advance the quality and standards of members of the profession. Of particular importance is the careful training, monitoring and tracking of its associates and the giving of sound guidance to all who consult it. In short, a Member should strive at all levels to aid the profession in advancing the highest possible standards of integrity and competence and to meet those standards itself.
EC 4-A Member should have pride in its professional endeavors. Its obligation to act competently calls for higher motivation than that arising from fear of civil liability or disciplinary penalty.
ER 4-101. FAILING TO ACT COMPETENTLY.
A Member shall not purchase or manage obligations without preparation adequate in the circumstances.
MEMBER BILL OF RIGHTS
A Member May Pursue Obligors Vigorously Within the Bounds of the Law
EC 5-1 The DBA recognizes that the Member owes a duty to its shareholders, clients, employees and other stakeholders which requires it to pursue obligors within the bounds of the law. The professional responsibility of a Member derives from its membership in a professional organization which has the duty of assisting Members while simultaneously protecting the industry at large to provide Members with all available legal rights in pursuing those with financial obligations. Each Member is entitled to have its conduct judged and regulated in accordance with the law; to seek any lawful objective through legally permissible means; and to present for adjudication any lawful claim, issue, or defense.
EC 5-2 Where the bounds of law are uncertain, the action of the Member should be resolved by giving the Member every reasonable benefit of doubt. However, a Member is not justified in asserting a position that is frivolous or which is being used to unfairly harass obligors.
EC 5-3 A Member should never encourage or aid another to commit criminal acts or counsel another on how to violate the law and avoid punishment.
EC 5-4 A Member is entitled to make decisions on its own, within the framework of the law.
EC 5-6 The nature and purpose of proceedings before courts, administrative agencies and other bodies where Members seek to obtain relief against obligors vary widely. Members often find themselves or their representatives in such bodies where the obligor fails to appear. The proceedings may be legislative or quasi-judicial, or a combination of both. They may be ex parte in character. The scope is usually adversarial looking toward the adjudication of specific rights of a party or of classes of parties. A Member appearing before such judicial bodies, regardless of the nature of the proceeding, has the continuing duty to advance its or its’ client’s causes within the bounds of the law. Where the applicable rules of the judicial body impose specific obligations upon a Member, it is its duty to comply therewith, unless the Member has a legitimate basis for challenging the validity thereof.
EC 5-7 The legal system in its broadest sense functions best when persons in need of legal advice or assistance are represented by their own counsel. For this reason a Member should not communicate on the subject matter of an obligor with a person he knows to be represented in the matter by an attorney, unless pursuant to law, rule of court, advice of counsel or unless he has the consent of the obligor for that person. If one is not represented by counsel, a Member may deal directly with the unrepresented person; in such an instance. As in all cases of abuse of judicial process, the improper use of process tends to diminish public confidence in our industry and should be avoided at all costs.
EC 5-8 The Respect for judicial rulings is essential to the proper administration of justice; however, a Member may, in good faith and within the framework of the law, take steps to test the correctness of a ruling of a tribunal.
EC 5-9 While a Member may take steps in good faith and within the framework of the law to test the validity of rules, it is not justified in consciously violating such rules and it should be diligent in its efforts to guard against its unintentional violation of them.
EC 5-10 The law and Ethical Rules prohibit the use of fraudulent, false, or perjured testimony or evidence. A Member who knowingly participates in introduction of such testimony or evidence is subject to discipline. A Member may, however, present any admissible evidence it desires to have presented unless it knows, or from facts within its knowledge should know, that such testimony or evidence is false, fraudulent, or perjured.
EC 5-11 In adversary proceedings, obligors are often litigants and though ill feeling may exist between the Member and the obligor or even between Members and non-members in a dispute, such ill feeling should not influence a Member in its conduct, attitude, and demeanor towards such adversaries. A Member should not make unfair or derogatory personal reference to about other Members, non-members or obligors. Haranguing and offensive tactics by Members cast a pall against our industry and must be avoided.
ER 5-101. MEMBERS MAY PURSUE OBLIGATIONS WITH ARDOR.
(A) A Member may, where permissible, exercise its reasonable judgment in pursuing with ardor obligors for legally owing obligations.
(2) A Member shall not engage, and shall refuse to participate, in conduct that it believes to be illegal.
ER 5-102. MEMBERS MAY PURSUE OBLIGATIONS WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW.
(A) Members may pursue obligations within the bounds of the law. A Member shall not:
- File a suit, assert a position, or take other action when it knows or when it is obvious that such action would serve merely to harass or maliciously injure another.
- Knowingly advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law, except that it may advance such claim or defense if it can be supported by good faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.
- Conceal or knowingly fail to disclose that which he is required by law to reveal.
- Knowingly use perjured testimony or false evidence.
- Knowingly make a false statement of law or fact.
- Participate in the creation or preservation of evidence when it knows or it is obvious that the evidence is false.
- Counsel or assist another in conduct that the Member knows to be illegal or fraudulent.
- Knowingly engage in other illegal conduct or conduct contrary to a Ethical Rule.
(B) A Member who receives information clearly establishing that another Member perpetrated a fraud upon a person shall promptly reveal the fraud to the affected person or the DBA, unless otherwise advised to the contrary by counsel.
ER 5-103. COMMUNICATING WITH ONE OF ADVERSE INTEREST.
(A) A Member shall not:
- Communicate or cause another to communicate with an obligor if such obligor is represented by an attorney unless it has the prior consent of the obligor, is authorized by law to do so or has received advice of counsel that such contact is allowable.
- Give legal advice to a person who is not represented by an attorney, other than the advice to secure counsel.
ER 5-104. THREATENING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.
(A) A Member shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter. This ER does not in any way prohibit a Member from pursuing criminal charges where it is appropriate to do so by applicable law, such as, for example, filing charges against an obligor for the transmission of a bad check.
ER 5-105. TRIAL CONDUCT.
(A) A Member shall not disregard a standing rule of a tribunal or a ruling of a tribunal made in the course of a proceeding, but it may take appropriate steps in good faith to test the validity of such rule or ruling.
(B) In appearing before a tribunal, a Member shall not:
- State or allude to any matter that it has no reasonable basis to believe is relevant to the case, or that will not be supported by admissible evidence.
- Ask any question that is intended to degrade a witness or other person.
- Engage in undignified or discourteous conduct which is degrading to a tribunal or a party to a proceeding.
ER 5-106. CONTACT WITH OFFICIALS.
(A) A Member shall not give or lend anything of value to a judge, official, or employee of a tribunal before which it has business.
ER 5-107. USE OF ER’S AND EC’S.
(A) These Ethical Rules and Ethical Considerations shall not to used by anyone other than the DBA and its Members and may not be used as a basis for civil liability as their sole purpose is to designate appropriate behavior within a membership organization.
(B) While Members and non-Members may file a complaint or grievance with the DBA Ethics Committee, no Member or non-member may bring a collateral proceeding or seek enforcement of an ER outside the context of the DBA
(C) Alleged violation of an ER is not evidence of a civil or criminal wrongdoing.
Members Should Avoid the Appearance of Impropriety
EC 6-1 A Member should promote public confidence in our financial and legal system.
EC 6-2 Public confidence may be eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct of a Member. On occasion, ethical conduct of a Member may appear to obligors, the media, members of the judiciary, legislators and others to be unethical. In order to avoid misunderstandings and hence to maintain confidence, a Member should guard against otherwise proper conduct that may be misconstrued by others as being inappropriate or subject it or our profession to criticism. When explicit ethical guidance does not exist, a Member should determine its conduct by acting in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the industry.
EC 6-3 Because the very essence of the legal system is to provide procedures by which matters can be presented in an impartial manner so that they may be decided solely upon the merits, any statement or suggestion by a Member that it can or would attempt to circumvent those procedures is detrimental to the industry and tends to undermine public confidence in it.
EC 6-4 Every Member owes a solemn duty to uphold the integrity and honor of its profession; to encourage respect for the law, obligors, the courts, other Members and non-members alike; to observe the Code of Ethics; and to strive to avoid not only impropriety but also the appearance of impropriety.
ER 6-101. AVOIDING EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY.
(A) A Member shall not state or imply that it is able to influence improperly or upon irrelevant grounds any tribunal, legislative body, or public official or otherwise determine the outcome of any litigation.
(B) A Member shall not falsely represent that it is affiliated with an organization when it is not, not that the Member is an expert unless (I) such designation has been provided by a professional organization authorized to provide such designation, and (ii) such a designation does not violate any other ER.
(C) A Member must not make a statement, written or oral, on behalf of the DBA unless such statement has been authorized by the DBA.
ER 6-102. USE OF DBA LOGO
(A) DBA has trademarked the DBA International logo and does permit its use by Members under certain terms and conditions. Should a Member wish to display and use the DBA logo for promotional purposes to indicate that they are a DBA Member on their company website or other promotional materials they must first execute an agreement with the DBA, which agreement grants a nonexclusive license to affix the DBA logo to certain promotional material.
(B) DBA reserves the right to terminate the nonexclusive license granted in the agreement and to prospectively change the terms and conditions of the Agreement from time to time in DBA's own sole discretion.
(C) No property rights, trademark or other intellectual property interests of DBA are transferred to the Member through the Agreement.
(D) The Member executing the Agreement has no right or authority to assign the DBA logo or its use to any other party.
Membership is a Privilege
EC 7-1 Membership in the DBA is a privilege and not a right. The DBA expends a large amount of time, energy, financial and other resources to promote the interests of the industry. Members are ambassadors of the DBA and the industry and should conduct themselves accordingly in compliance with the EC’s and the ERs’ so as to not damage their own reputation and that of the DBA.
EC 7-2 DBA goes through great effort to provide a forum where Members can gather, network and receive education. It undermines the interests of the DBA and it membership when Members choose to attend DBA sponsored events, but do not register for the event. Such actions require DBA to charge Members and non-members more to attend the events in order to cover those individuals who choose not support the costs of hosting the event, but who wish to gain by networking with the people that are brought to the event by the DBA. Profit from the event is also used to support other DBA functions and infrastructure, such as paying for its legal counsel, its executive director, its association management and its lobbyist. Failing to pay for a DBA sponsored event therefore causes the DBA to charge more for membership than it would otherwise need to.
EC 7-3 Members should encourage those attending events and other DBA sponsored activities to pay for those activities or refuse to provide the benefit to the offending Member, such as by not agreeing to meet with the Member at the event.
(A) 7-1 Any Member who attends a DBA sponsored event, but fails to pay for the event and who takes advantage of DBA provided discounts or other similar benefits is subject to either (i) disciplinary action, or (ii) receiving an invoice for the cost of the event. For example, should a Member attend the annual DBA conference and take advantage of the discounted room rate, but then fail to pay for the conference, disciplinary action is appropriate.
RULE I - JURISDICTION
All DBA International (“DBA”) members and prospective members who have submitted applications for membership are subject to the Ethical Rules (“ER’s) of DBA International and the authority hereinafter established by the ERs. Members are encouraged to comply with the Ethical Considerations (“EC’s) of DBA International, but are not required to comply with such EC’s and may not be subject to discipline for any such violations.
RULE 2 – GROUND FOR DISCIPLINE
DBA members are hereby entrusted with knowledge of and abidance of the ER’s of DBA International. It is the duty of every member to conduct themselves at all times, both professionally and personally in conformity with the standards imposed upon members by the ER’s, the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Gramm-Leach-Blily Act, and any other Federal, State and local rules, regulations or laws pertaining to the profession. Acts or omissions by a DBA member, individually or in concert with any other person or persons, which violate any of the aforementioned, subject to a violation that is being contested by a Member either judicially or administratively, shall constitute misconduct and shall be grounds for either another Member or the Board of Directors of DBA to file a complaint with the DBA Ethics Committee or possible discipline against any such member. A conviction of any DBA member for any crime shall be Per Se evidence of the commission of the crime, in any disciplinary proceeding instituted against said DBA International member, based upon the conviction.
RULE 3 – TYPES OF DISCIPLINE
(A) Violation(s) of an ER shall be grounds for:
- Membership removal;
- Membership suspension;
- Formal reprimand;
- Informal admonition;
- Specified rehabilitative training;
- Any other form of discipline DBA deems appropriate.
(B) DBA may, on its own motion, request a Member to respond to the Ethics Committee and show cause why a disciplinary action should not be taken against it. The Member shall be provided a reasonably adequate amount of time to respond and present to the Ethics Committee, after which point the Ethics Committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Directors of DBA. In cases of imminent harm to other Members or the public, the DBA may take action without first affording a Member a hearing, provided that after an action is taken the Member is still afforded an opportunity to be heard and have any action modified.
RULE 4 – DBA COMMITTEE FOR DISCIPLINE OF A MEMBER
(A) DBA shall appoint a three member committee to be known as the DBA Ethics Committee (the “Ethics Committee”) which shall consist of:
- Two members of the Board of Directors of DBA;
- The Chairperson of the Ethics Committee.
(B) Ethics Committee members shall abstain from taking part in any proceeding in which there is a conflict of interest. In the event of an abstention, the President shall appoint necessary replacements to the Ethics Committee.
(C) The Ethics Committee shall exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred and imposed upon it by the Ethical Rules.
(D) The Ethics Committee may adopt additional procedural rules not inconsistent with rules set forth herein.
RULE 5 – DUTIES OF DBA MEMBERS
(A) It shall be the duty of each Member to aid and respond to the Ethics Committee in investigations concerning disciplinary complaints and to communicate to the Ethics Committee information they may have affecting such matter.
(B) It shall be the further duty of each Member to report to the Ethics Committee any action, inaction, or conduct, which in his/her opinion constitutes misconduct of any other Member under the Ethical Rules.
RULE 6 – COMPLAINTS
All complaints or reports relating to misconduct of any Member shall be filed with the Ethics Committee in writing by way of letter, electronic mail or complaint to the President or General Counsel of DBA. Complaints to be valid must identify the individual making the complaint and provide sufficient information to allow that member to be contacted to seek further information. The Ethics Committee shall within seven (7) days commence an investigation of all complaints or reports received, unless the complaint or report appears, on its face, to be frivolous or without merit, in which case the Ethics Committee may dismiss the complaint or report without having formally reviewed the same.
RULE 7 – INVESTIGATIONS
(A) All investigations, whether upon complaint or otherwise, shall be initiated and conducted by the Chairman of the Ethics Committee or under his/her supervision. Complaint letters will be sent to the Member to whom the complaint is directed for a response and the Member shall be given 30 days to respond. A Member may request an in-person presentation to the Ethics Committee at any time that the Ethics Committee convenes in person.
(B) Upon the conclusion of an investigation, the Ethics Committee shall make a recommendation of action or non-action and provide its recommendation to the Member or Members being investigated. The Ethics Committee shall similarly communicate its recommendation via a report to the Board, including whether action should be taken and the level of action. Prior to any action being taken by the Board, the affected Member(s) may, within seven (7) days of receipt of the Ethics Committee recommendation, file an appeal with the Board of the Ethics’ Committee findings. The Board may either review the subject matter of the Member’s appeal De Novo or look solely to the findings of the Ethics Committee and any additional matters brought to the attention of the Board via the Member’s appeal. .Disposition shall thereupon be made by a majority vote of the Board unless it directs further investigation. Members consent that the disposition of the matter may be communicated to other Members and the public at large.
(C) Any person who has applied for membership must be reviewed by the Ethics Committee and the Ethics Committee shall report to the DBA Board on its findings and recommendations. The Ethics Committee’s duties in this regard are the same as if it was reviewing an existing Member and prospective members being so reviewed shall have the same rights and be governed by the same procedures as existing Members.
RULE 8 – ETHICS COMMITTEE REPORTS
After the conclusion of an Ethics Committee vote after investigation, in which all parties have responded in writing, a report shall be made to the DBA Board setting forth findings and recommendations, which report shall be signed by the Ethics Committee Chairman. The Ethics Committee may, or the DBA Board of its own motion may, recommend that a Member be permanently barred from membership if the violations so warrant.
RULE 9 - MATTERS INVOLVING RELATED PENDING CIVIL OR CRIMINAL LITIGATION
Processing of complaints shall not be deferred or abated because of substantial similarity to the material allegations of pending civil or criminal litigation, unless authorized by the Ethics Committee or the Board. Pending litigation or criminal matters shall also be the basis for investigation if a complaint is filed and the same procedures for determination followed.
RULE 10 – REINSTATEMENT OF MEMBERSHIP/ABILITY TO REAPPLY
(A) Any Member who has been removed from membership or who was denied membership may apply for reinstatement after one year, unless a shorter time is prescribed by the Ethics Committee. Such petition shall set forth facts showing that the Member has rehabilitated itself or that it is entitled to have the discipline terminated. Only one reinstatement application will be considered per year. After three years of removal, the removed Member may reapply and the DBA Board may not use the prior disciplinary matter as a consideration of membership, unless the Ethics Committee recommended otherwise at the time of the discipline and such action was approved by the DBA Board.
(B) On receipt of such petition, the Board of Directors shall direct the Ethics Committee to make a recommendation and the Board shall thereafter promptly consider the same and report to the Member its findings.
(C) If the report of the Board recommends denial of the petition, the Member shall have no further right to appeal unless the Board has denied membership subject to requested proof of a certain action to be implemented or the satisfaction of another condition.
RULE 11 – CONFIDENTIALITY
All proceedings, reports, and records of disciplinary investigations shall be maintained in confidence except to the extent necessary for investigation and consideration of the matter and shall not be divulged in whole or in part to the public unless the Ethics Committee recommends a formal Member reprimand or other discipline.