Principles of Conduct

Operational policy of the CBA approved by Board of Directors, June 2010. Revised November 2019.


The Canadian Bar Association is committed to the highest principles of fairness, honesty and integrity. These Principles of Conduct apply to volunteer activities within the CBA and supplement the governing rules for members of the legal profession.

The CBA recognizes the historical role of codification of rights, freedoms and responsibilities in breaking down barriers to participation. It seeks the participation of new members and volunteers from every sector of the legal profession.

These Principles promote confidence and credibility in the CBA among members, volunteers, employees and the public. They are intended to ensure volunteers and staff are welcomed and treated as valuable, integral members of the CBA’s governance, management and operations.


These Principles apply to all volunteers acting in any capacity on the CBA's behalf. To the extent that they do not conflict with the CBA Policy Manual for employees, employees are also expected to follow the Principles.

Principles of Conduct

  1. to act with integrity, honesty, transparency and in good faith in the CBA's best interests;
  2. to comply with the requirements of human rights and constitutional laws in force in Canada, the provinces and territories;
  3. to seek consensus through open discussion and debate, with appropriate consideration and respect for legitimate dissent;
  4. to participate in CBA activities constructively, in cooperation with other volunteers and CBA employees;
  5. to respect the fundamental premise that all volunteers give generously of their time and talents;
  6. to refrain from making inappropriate or unwarranted demands on CBA resources, including the time of other volunteers and employees, financial and information technology resources, and physical plant and facilities;
  7. when possible, to promote new talent, gender balance and diversity, in support of the achievement of the CBA mission statement and strategic plan; and
  8. to treat employees, volunteers, members and guests with courtesy, respect and dignity.

Reporting and Resolving Misconduct

CBA volunteers and employees may confidentially bring to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer, allegations and evidence of misconduct on the part of any other CBA volunteer or employee. The Chief Executive Officer shall investigate the matter as he or she believes appropriate in the circumstances, but in all cases must be informed by both sides of a dispute in the course of that investigation. The Chief Executive Officer shall attempt to resolve the dispute quickly and informally to the satisfaction of both parties and in a manner consistent with these Principles. If the complainant requests that his or her identity not be revealed, that request shall be honoured, even though it may hinder effective investigation. Any investigation will take into account and respect:

  1. confidentiality;
  2. the underlying goals of these Principles, including maintenance of a safe and respectful workplace;
  3. the privacy entitlements of the parties;
  4. the value of an apology;
  5. recognition of the serious implications for reputation due to unsubstantiated complaints;
  6. proportionality with respect to the alleged misconduct;
  7. harm done in the workplace, to the CBA's work, and to the individuals involved; and
  8. the risk of future adverse outcomes if the misconduct is not discouraged or stopped.

Where the allegations are with respect to the Chief Executive Officer, the Vice President shall investigate the matter as above.

For allegations with respect to a volunteer or the Chief Executive Officer, if the dispute cannot be resolved quickly and informally, the complainant may request that the matter be brought to the CBA Governance and Equality Committee. The Chief Executive Officer must prepare the reference in writing, describing the incident and the results of the informal investigation, including each party’s position. The Governance and Equality Committee may determine any appropriate steps that should be part of their review procedure and that should be taken to protect the confidentiality of the investigation. The parties are entitled to attend the Governance and Equality Committee meeting at which the matter is discussed. The names of the parties directly involved shall not be recorded in the meeting minutes unless the parties request it. The Governance and Equality Committee may direct the Chief Executive Officer to take any further action they deem necessary.

Confidentiality of Information

In the course of day-to-day business, volunteers and employees may receive sensitive information relating to, among other things, CBA plans, practices, programs, methodology, pricing, finances, customers, volunteers, members and staff. This information must be kept confidential.

No one shall have access to private information of members without compliance with CBA privacy policies. No one shall have access to private information of employees without a clear and relevant purpose pertaining to CBA business. Requests for private information of members shall be directed to the Director of Membership. Requests for private information of employees shall be directed to the Director of Human Resources.

Display of these Principles

These Principles shall be posted on the CBA website.