Promoting the highest standards of welfare within the Irish animal behaviour industry.

Promoting the highest standards of welfare within the Irish animal behaviour industry.

Code of conduct

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1. Introduction

The Irish Veterinary Behaviour Association (IVBA) has a Code of Conduct, which sets out certain minimum standards for conduct with which all of its members are required to comply.

Any disciplinary function of the IVBA shall be guided by this Code of Conduct, but mention or lack of mention in the Code of Conduct of a particular act or omission shall not be taken as conclusive on any question of professional conduct.

Note that the IVBA also have other policies for its members to abide by, including an Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy, GDPR and the IVBA Articles of Association. All IVBA members have professional obligations to their clients, the animals they are helping, their employers (where relevant), to one another, to students, to colleagues in other disciplines and to society.

All IVBA Members support and contribute towards the mission statement of the IVBA: this is: to promote the highest standards of welfare in the Irish Animal Behaviour Industry.

Taking account of their obligations under the laws of the countries in which they work, they shall hold the interest and welfare of those in receipt of their services to be paramount at all times and ensure that the interests of participants in any research are safeguarded. They must familiarise themselves and comply with all relevant legislation, including that regarding animal welfare and the provision of psychological services, and the codes of practice of the appropriate professional bodies.

2. Representing the IVBA

IVBA Members must be aware of the naming conventions, protected titles, qualifications, use of particular logos and descriptions allowed by their specific independent accrediting body and according to their local laws and regulations. IVBA Membership does not automatically allow usage of titles allowed by each of the independent accrediting bodies.

Members may not use the word ‘Specialist’ to describe themselves, unless allowed to do so by their veterinary college or board. It should be noted that all IVBA members should not use ‘IVBA Member’ or derivatives as a post-nominal (e.g. ‘MIVBA’), as membership to the IVBA is not a qualification of any kind.

All IVBA Members may use the IVBA supporter logo.

3. Complaints and Disciplinary Procedure

Any complaints against individual IVBA Members may only relate to their membership of the IVBA and not relate to any other professional and/ or personal behaviour.

3.1 What is misconduct relating to IVBA membership?

We publish a Code of Conduct which sets out certain standards of conduct with which our members are expected to comply.

The Code is supplemented by other guidelines and statements of good practice by which IVBA members are expected to abide. Misconduct relating to IVBA membership will occur if members act outside the Code or guidelines and will include such things as:

  • declarations or representations in relation to their IVBA membership, for example: use of the IVBA logo
  • behaviour which contravenes the IVBA "Anti- Bullying Policy"
  • Activities or behaviours which contravene the IVBA "Privacy Policy"

3.2 Complaints procedure

How does one make a complaint against an IVBA member? All complaints must be in writing. You can use the form below (Appendix A) or write a letter. If you have any documents or other evidence which support your complaint, please send us copies of these in the first instance, but retain the originals, which may be required at a later date and will be returned to you. If it is not possible for you to provide supporting documents or evidence, due to GDPR requirements for example, please provide an explanation.

3.3 Who deals with complaints?

Initially all complaints are considered by the IVBA Committee, or by a IVBA Conduct Subcommittee appointed by the main committee. In addition to two or more IVBA members, the Conduct Subcommittee may include "lay" representatives who will normally be invited nominees from other relevant professional bodies such as the VCI, Veterinary Ireland or IVNA with experience of the disciplinary processes within their own profession.

The IVBA Conduct Subcommittee has power to take action against any IVBA Member within the scope of their terms of membership. If the complaint directly relates to any member(s) of IVBA Committee, those member(s) may be excluded from considering the complaint. Subject to the exact circumstances, other IVBA Committee members may consider the complaint, or external appropriate professionals may be instructed to arbitrate.

3.4 What happens next?

When the IVBA Committee receives a complaint:

  1. The precise details of the complaint will be ascertained, documented by complaint handlers and then submitted to the complainant for agreement.
  2. If the complaint refers to independent parties who may be able to support the complaint, the IVBA complaint handlers will clarify the validity of these.
  3. The IVBA complaint handlers will contact those independent parties in writing, where appropriate, to clarify their supporting evidence. The IVBA complaint handlers will then contact the member that is the subject of the complaint in writing to explain the complaint details; to include the name of the complainant and those who have provided supporting evidence. Relevant documentation will be forwarded to the subject of the complaint. The subject of the complaint will not be asked to provide a response until in receipt of this information. When in receipt of this information, the subject of the complaint will be asked to respond in writing to the allegations within 14 business days. Extensions to this time period may be granted under extenuating circumstances. Once it has received a response, the complaint handlers will consider all the evidence to hand.

They may recommend:

  • that further investigation is not required because there is no evidence of misconduct
  • that the complaint handlers undertake further enquiries into the allegations
  • that negotiation or mediation between the complainant and the complainer should be attempted
  • that the complaint handlers should write to the subject of the complaint to advise them that they have concerns about their conduct. The letter will set out the concerns and will remain as a permanent record on the IVBA member’s membership records
  • that a full hearing of the allegations of misconduct should take place.

3.5 What happens at Conduct hearings?

If the alleged offence is considered extreme, or if resolution is not reached by the complainant and complainer, the complainant and complainer will be asked to attend a chaired IVBA meeting in relation to the complaint. This meeting should occur at a location, and on a date and time, which best considers all parties involved. Attendees will be given at least 28 days’ notice of this meeting. If the complainant or complainer declines to attend this meeting, the meeting may proceed in their absence. Hearings usually last one day.

The subject of the complaint may present his or her own case or be represented by a person of their choice. If the subject wishes to present their own case, they are entitled to be accompanied by another person during the hearing; however, while the accompanying person can liaise with the subject, they are not permitted to answer questions on the subject's behalf. The Conduct Subcommittee will decide whether the IVBA Member is guilty of misconduct under the terms of their membership. The Committee shall be guided by this Code of Conduct but the mention or lack of mention in the Code of Conduct of a particular act or omission shall not be taken as conclusive on any question of conduct.

In the event that it finds an individual guilty of misconduct the Conduct Committee may take one or more of the following courses of action:

  • reprimand or severely reprimand the IVBA member;
  • require the IVBA member to give written undertakings as deemed appropriate by the Committee, for a period not exceeding three years. The undertakings, which may include undertakings to refrain from continuing or repeating the offending conduct, may be reviewed no sooner than one year after they commence, by referral to a further Disciplinary Subcommittee hearing;
  • suspend the IVBA member from the IVBA Membership List, the period of suspension to be determined by the Committee, but not to exceed three years, and to attach conditions to the suspension as and if deemed necessary by the Committee;
  • permanently remove the IVBA member from the IVBA Membership List;
  • place conditions upon the membership of the individual as deemed appropriate by the Committee. Those conditions may be appealed, removed or varied by way of a Committee hearing;
  • any breach of conditions imposed by a Conduct Committee will be referred to a further hearing of the Committee, where the Committee may remove, amend or replace the conditions with any penalty available to it.

The subject of the complaint has a right of appeal against any decision of the Conduct Committee. Details of the Appeals Procedure can be found below.

If after reading this, you are unsure what to do next please contact the IVBA Honorary Secretary. He/she can advise you (or the subject of your complaint) about the complaint’s procedure at all stages of the process. They cannot advise on the merits of any complaint or potential complaints, however.

3.6 Appeals Procedure

Any IVBA member who has been subject to the complaint/ disciplinary process has the right to an appeal. This will be heard by a minimum of 2 members of the IVBA committee, to include either or both the Chair & Vice Chair of the IVBA. The IVBA committee members hearing the appeal should not have been involved in the initial complaints hearing. The appeal committee have 3 options available to them:

  • To recommend further investigation.
  • To uphold the decision of the initial complaints committee.
  • To overturn the decision of the initial complaints committee.

3.7 Liability

The Irish Veterinary Behaviour Association (IVBA) shall not be liable to any of its members for any claims, losses, damages or other expenses (either direct, special or consequential) arising as a result of any dispute between a IVBA member and their client or a third party in relation to any professional advice or treatment given.

IVBA members shall hold professional indemnity and public liability insurance at an adequate level and sufficient to meet any liabilities which might arise because of their professional practice.


Appendix A: Complaints Form


Your details:

Full name:


Your email address (optional):

Your daytime telephone number (optional):

Name and address of the IVBA Member you want to complain about:



Please describe what you think the IVBA Member has done wrong:

If there are documents or other evidence which supports your complaint, please also send copies of them to us. If it is not possible for you to provide supporting documents or evidence, due to GDPR requirements for example, please provide an explanation.

What would you like the IVBA to do to resolve your complaint?

Signature of complainant:


Please attach any documents which support your complaint and send this complaint form to:

Please mark the email as ‘Strictly confidential’.