Conflict of Interest
Memorial University of Newfoundland (the University) fosters a climate that encourages its people to be creative and innovative, while seeking to achieve the highest possible quality in delivery of programs, services and the research it conducts, striving for excellence at all times. As a place of learning, the University encourages its faculty, staff and students to be broadly involved in professional interests and activities compatible with the University's mission, values and commitments. Occasionally, the best interests of the University and the personal interests of its Members may conflict, or may be perceived to conflict.
The University holds itself to the highest ethical standard and recognizes that accountability and transparency are essential for its operation. It is the ethical responsibility for everyone who acts on behalf of the University to ensure that decisions and actions that affect the University are taken in the best interests of the University and are not influenced by personal interests. To maintain public and professional trust and confidence, the University must deal with real, perceived or potential conflicts of interest in an open, fair, consistent and practical way.
To set out the University's position on real, perceived or potential conflicts of interest and to provide processes and mechanisms to address these, so that the University and its external constituencies can be confident decisions and actions are not inappropriately influenced by personal interest. The policy is intended to be complementary to other policies and collective agreements governing the conduct of Members.
All Members of the University.
Conflict of Interest: A conflict of interest exists in any situation where there is a potential divergence between a Member's personal interests and his or her obligations to the University such that an independent observer would reasonably question whether the Member's behavior or decisions are in any way motivated by considerations of personal interest, financial or otherwise. A conflict of interest may be real, perceived or potential.
A conflict of interest does not necessarily imply wrongdoing as a conflict of interest depends upon the circumstances and not on the character of a Member. In addition, the presence of a real, perceived or potential conflict of interest does not necessarily preclude the involvement of the Member, but it does mean that the conflict shall be disclosed by the Member, and allowed and managed or disallowed, and any decision recorded appropriately.
Family/Personal Associate: A person related to the Member by blood, adoption, marriage or common-law marriage or a person who has a close personal, financial or intimate relationship; it may also include an individual with whom a University member has had such a relationship within a previous five-year period with the Member.
Financial Interest and Financial Benefit: The receipt or expectation of anything of monetary value, including pay or salary or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees, bonuses, speaker's fees, advisory board remuneration, finders or recruitment fees, or honoraria), equity interests (stocks, stock options or the like), security or other ownership interests, and intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights, royalties or carried interests or options related to such rights).
Member: Any person who teaches, conducts research, or works at or under the auspices of the University and includes, without limitation:
Outside Activity: Any activity outside a Member's work with the University that involves the same or similar specialized skill and knowledge that a Member uses in his or her work with the University and includes the ownership and operation of a business, consulting and advisory services.
Personal Interest: This includes personal, financial, intimate or other interest of the Member or Family/Personal Associate.
Unit Head: This term includes Deans, Academic, non-Academic and Administrative Directors, Executive Directors, the University Librarian, the University Registrar and the Principal of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. In the case of the Marine Institute, the Manager of Human Resources.
University: Memorial University of Newfoundland.
(1) Each Member of the University has a duty to assess his/her own interests, involvement and activities and to report any real, perceived, or potential conflicts of interest. In assessing this duty, Members should take care to disclose activity that a reasonably informed observer might conclude to be in conflict with a Member's duties to the University.
(2) Members are referred to the examples of CONFLICT OF INTEREST SITUATIONS below for greater certainty. When a situation arises that creates, or may be perceived to create, a conflict of interest for the Member, he/she must disclose this prior to engaging in any activities. Such disclosures shall be made in writing. Time is of the essence in disclosing. If the Member is uncertain whether he/she is in conflict of interest, a conflict of interest exists, or is likely to exist, he/she should seek clarification from his/her unit head of the University pursuant to the PROCEDURE FOR DISCLOSING AND ASSESSING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. It may be necessary that an activity be placed on hold pending an assessment.
(3) A Member shall not participate in an activity or decision that involves a real, perceived or potential conflict of interest unless such activity or decision has been disclosed to, and approved by, the Conflict of Interest Committee and if such approval has been given, any terms or conditions made by the Committee are fulfilled.
(4) Any Member who is aware of, or has reasonable grounds to believe, that an undisclosed conflict of interest exists for another Member shall pursue the matter by one or more of the following ways:
(5) Any referral for advice and direction will be assessed in a timely and fair manner by the University in accordance with the PROCEDURE FOR DISCLOSING AND ASSESSING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.
(6) A conflict of interest may, in certain cases, be permitted when it can be managed in a way that protects and serves the integrity and interests of the University, including its ethical, legal and contractual obligations, and will stand the test of reasonable and independent scrutiny.
(8) Records created as a result of actions under this Policy will be managed in accordance with the University's Records Management Policy, and will be under the management of the Office of the President.
Failure to comply with the provisions of this Policy will be pursued under applicable collective agreements, employment contracts, codes or other University policies and may result in disciplinary action. The University reserves the right to recover any profit or financial benefit obtained by a Member as a result of non-compliance.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST SITUATIONS:
Conflict of interest situations may take many forms. Examples include, but are not limited to the following list:
(i) Interest in a Research, Business, Contract or Transaction
Entering into or involvement in a research, business, contract or transaction on behalf of the University with a company, individual or firm in which the Member, or a member of his/her family or a person with whom there exists, or has existed within the previous five-year period, a Personal Interest.
(ii) Influencing Purchase of Equipment/Materials or Services
Influencing the purchase of equipment, materials or services for the University from a company or firm in which the Member or a Family/Personal Associate has a Personal Interest.
(iii) Acceptance of Gifts, Benefits or Financial Favours
Accepting gifts valued in excess of $250 from one source in a fiscal year from individuals or firms with which the University does business or with which it is contemplating doing business. Members may not accept cash, gift certificates, excessive entertainment, and gifts or loans on preferential terms.
(iv) Use of Information
Using for personal gain information which a reasonable person would view as privileged or confidential acquired as a result of the Member's University-supported activities, or communicating this information to those not authorized to receive it. Such information might include knowledge of any forthcoming developments requiring the selection of a contractor or bulk purchases. Other examples may include unreasonably delaying publication of research results or the premature announcement of research results for personal gain.
(v) Use of Students, University Personnel, Resources or Assets
Directing University students or personnel to carry out work for the Member or his/her company in which the Member or a Family/Personal Associate has a Personal Interest. University-approved work term/placements are exempt from this provision.
(vi) Involvement in Personnel Decisions
Participating in the recruitment, appointment, re-appointment, hiring, promotion or evaluation of a person, or in renewal of contracts, discipline matters, compensation or benefits decisions, leave requests, expense claims or other personnel decisions of a person where the Member has, or has had within a previous five-year period, a Personal Interest.
(vii) Evaluation of Academic Work
Participating in an evaluation of a student's academic work where the Member has, or has had within a previous five-year period, a Personal Interest with a student or with a member of his/her family.
(viii) Academic Program Decisions
Participation in decisions by a Member to admit a student to a program, to provide instruction or supervision, to award prizes, scholarships, financial assistance or other benefits, to award teaching or research assistance, where the Member has, or has had within a previous five-year period, a Personal Interest with a student or with a member of his/her family.
(ix) Favouring "Outside Interests" for Personal Gain
Entering into a research contract with a company in which the Member or a Family/Personal Associate has financial interest. Directing the Member's government-sponsored research program to serve the research or development needs of a private firm in which the Member has a financial or other interest. Entering into a licensing agreement for the development of intellectual property, generated as a result of University research with a company in which the Member has a Personal Interest.
(x) Undertaking of Outside Activity
Undertaking an outside activity by employees of the Marine Institute for activities which otherwise would be undertaken by the Marine Institute or by clients of the Marine Institute. In addition, all Members have the obligation to review the terms of any employment with, including any applicable collective agreement or contract of employment, to ascertain any provisions regarding outside activities.
The above list is not complete and Members should be aware that there are other situations which may arise which could put them in a conflict of interest. In such situations, Members should seek advice pursuant to the PROCEDURE FOR DISCLOSING AND ASSESSING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST.