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Conflicts of Interest Policy

Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 28 November 2006
Date Policy Took Effect 28 November 2006
Last Approved Revision 27 March 2017
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible Officer Chief Operating Officer
Review Date 27 March 2022


The purpose of this policy is to ensure staff members recognise, avoid conflicts of interest, disclose and manage any conflict of interest they may have and act in a manner consistent with their responsibilities in their employment with the University. It should be read in conjunction with the Conflict of Interest Guidelines.

Organisational Scope


This policy applies to all staff of the University of Otago and all staff in controlled entities of the University of Otago.


 Potential Conflict of Interest - A circumstance in which a staff member may, through their employment with the University, have, or be perceived to have, the opportunity to unfairly benefit themselves or some other party related to them.

Obtaining a Material Benefit- Means obtaining directly or indirectly, any goods, money, pecuniary advantage, privilege, property, or other valuable consideration of any kind.

Policy Content

1.  Potential Conflict of Interest

(a) A Potential conflict of interest exists when:

(i) The responsibilities of a staff member are, or could be affected by some other personal, financial or academic interest or duty. This can include staff-staff, or staff-student, relationships as referenced in the Ethical Behaviour Policy1.
(ii) The activities of a staff member outside their employment with the University lead, or could lead, to material benefit for the staff member concerned, either directly or indirectly2, to the detriment, or potential detriment, of the University.
(iii) The activities of a staff member interfere, or could interfere, with that staff member’s fulfilment of their employment obligations3.

(b) Any reference to a conflict is a reference to an actual, perceived or potential conflict.

2.  Guiding Principles

The guiding principles for the identification and management of potential conflicts of interest in any situation are:

(a) Staff members acting on behalf of the University must be seen at all times to behave in an impartial and transparent manner.

(b) It is important to understand that the existence of a potential conflict of interest does not necessarily imply wrong-doing on the part of any person. However, any interests which could give rise to a potential conflict of interest must be promptly disclosed and managed, in accordance with 2 (d).

(c) Staff members need to be alert to situations in which they, or the people that they manage or supervise, may have a potential conflict of interest and ensure that the situation is recognised and handled appropriately.

(d) Potential conflicts of interest must be dealt with quickly and transparently, that is they must be:

(i) acknowledged by the staff member;
(ii) disclosed to their manager or supervisor;
(iii) put on record, where appropriate; and
(iv) effectively managed or avoided.
(v) where a staff-staff, or staff-student, relationship is the conflict of interest, section 4 of the Ethical Behaviour Policy must be adhered to.

(e) If a staff member has any doubt as to whether a potential conflict of interest exists, they must disclose the matter to their manager or supervisor.

(f) Staff members must consider how an impartial observer might reasonably perceive a potential conflict of interest situation or relationship, whether or not any wrong-doing is involved.

(g) Potential conflicts of interest may raise complex issues and staff members and their managers or supervisors must judge each situation that arises in a prudent manner.

(h) Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest may involve disclosing personal information. This information must be handled with due regard to the privacy of the individual concerned.

(i) If a person has a potential conflict of interest in the matter being considered, they must not take part in any discussion or decision on the matter giving rise to the conflict unless the chair/relevant manager decides otherwise.

(j) However, a person who has a direct or indirect financial (excluding super funds managed by independent 3rd parties) interest in the matter being considered must not take part in any decision about the matter.

(k) Individuals who do not comply with the University requirements regarding the management of potential conflicts of interest, as described in this policy, or other University policies or procedures, may be subject to disciplinary action.

(l) Additional advice and resources for managing potential conflicts of interest may also be sought from:

(i) Chief Operating Officer
(ii) Financial Services
(iii) Human Resources
(iv) Office of Risk, Assurance and Compliance
(v) Controller and Auditor General
(vi) State Services Commission

1. Refer to section 3 of the Ethical Behaviour Policy
2. Through a family member, associated entity or external organisation
3. Refer to the Outside Employment Policy (Academic Staff) for guidance on conflicts caused by paid outside employment

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the Chief Operating Officer.