Association of Authors Agents

Code of practice

  1. All members are required to act in such a way that the reputation of the Association of Authors' Agents is protected and enhanced, and to observe the Code of Practice set out in the following paragraphs. Members shall pay due heed to such other non-mandatory standards and guidelines to good practice as may be proposed by the Committee from time to time.
  2. No member shall knowingly represent the client of another agency, whether or not that other agency is a member of the Association. Failure to enquire as to a client's agency relationship shall be considered a violation of this rule.
  3. No member shall restrain a client from leaving his or her agency. In the event that a client does leave a member agency, then that agency shall have a continuing right to full commission on contracts which it has already negotiated. The original agency shall, unless otherwise agreed, release to the client all unsold rights and any rights that subsequently revert from licensees.
  4. All members shall by cheque or bank transfer account faithfully to their clients, within not more than 21 days of clients' monies being cleared in the member's bank account, for all sums due to their clients unless instructed otherwise by their clients or otherwise agreed.
  5. All members shall furnish promptly to their clients any information and material which the client may reasonably request in connection with his/her business. A member shall allow his/her clients at all reasonable times the right to verify and authenticate any statement of account concerning that client and shall submit promptly and regularly to the client full details of any transaction handled by the member.
  6. All members recognise the continuing right of other members to commission on contracts already negotiated.
  7. No member shall act for a client after the client's authorisation to do so has terminated, except that
    1. no member shall be debarred from continuing to act in specified areas if so instructed in writing by the client and
    2. the member shall continue to receive commission in respect of the agreements entered into previously with third parties on the client's behalf and appropriate commission in respect of negotiations carried out on the client's behalf and which are consequently concluded by the client or a new agent.
  8. Agents may reimburse themselves from money collected from third parties on their author's behalf for money properly spent for such expenses as photocopying of manuscripts or proposals and/or for the purchase of proofs or books for submission, for bank charges in relation to overseas payments or other exceptional postage and/or courier expenses. However, no member shall charge a reading fee or any other fee to a client beyond his/her regular commission as notified to the Association without the client's or prospective client's prior consent in writing.
    1. No member may without informing his/her client in writing in advance, represent in any transaction both his/her client as vendor of services or copyright material and any other interest as purchaser and/or representative of purchaser of such material and must declare to the client in writing any proprietary or profitable interest in any contract apart from that of a normal agency commission.

      Members may in exceptional circumstances make special commission arrangements with a client provided that they obtain the client's prior consent in writing. Members are strongly advised to consult the Committee if they are in any doubt whatsoever as to the propriety of any such special arrangement. The Committee shall have power to decide on the acceptability to the Association of any such special arrangement which comes to its notice and to require the member in question to amend to its satisfaction any such arrangement which in its view it deems unacceptable. The member may elect to withdraw from membership of the Association upon receiving notice that a particular commission arrangement is unacceptable in the Committee's opinion.
  9. No member shall use or communicate to others information relating to a client's affairs confidentially given to him/her except as required by law.
  10. All members shall establish for their clients' monies a bank account separate from the member's general business and personal accounts and shall deposit clients' monies in that account immediately upon receipt or as directed by the client.
  11. All members shall at all times act honestly, and in such a manner that neither clients nor third parties are misled. Members shall keep their clients apprised of relevant information and offers that they receive. Members shall not knowingly or recklessly disseminate false or misleading information.
  12. No member shall knowingly, recklessly or maliciously injure the professional reputation or practice of another member.
  13. All members shall promote and protect their clients' best interests and maintain regular contact to keep them informed as to work undertaken on their behalf.
  14. All members shall conduct their business lawfully.
  15. All members shall notify new clients in writing of their terms of business.
  16. All member agencies shall hold adequate provision for Professional Indemnity Insurance to a minimum level adequate to the requirement of the member agency's trading. The Association has a group scheme available through PIMS-SCA
  17. Members who are sole traders shall make adequate legal provision for the protection and disbursement of clients' monies in the event of resignation, incapacity or death.
  18. All complaints made against members for alleged violation of any provision of the Code of Practice shall be considered by the full Committee of the Association who shall have the right to expel any member against whom a significant and material breach of the Code of Practice is upheld. Such a decision must be taken unanimously by the full Committee. Any member against whom a complaint has been lodged shall have the right to appear in person before the Committee to hear and/or answer such complaint. In the event of a dispute between member agencies over a matter of professional practice, the Committee may, if requested by the parties, act as arbitrators.

January 2008