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Code of Professional Conduct and Good Practice

Scope of the Code

Scope of the Code

The Code as amended below was adopted by the Council of the Society of Garden Designers on 21st April 2009 under (now 2017) Clause 11 of the Society's Articles of Association.

This Code is binding on all members of the Society and where present, their partners and/or their employees with effect from 21st April 2009.

Breaches of this Code may result in disciplinary action being taken under Clause 7.3 of the Society's Articles of Association.

1 Introduction

1.1 The purpose and scope of the Code of Professional Conduct and Good Practice is to:

a inform members who are providing design services of the standard of professional conduct required of them in the exercise of their professional accountability and practice;

b inform the public, other professions and employers of the standard of professional conduct that they can expect of a member of the Society.

1.2 As a member of the Society, you must:

a act in such a way that justifies the trust and confidence the public have in you.

b uphold and enhance the good reputation of the profession and the Society.

1.3 You are personally accountable for your practice, (be it a single-person, or a multi- person practice). This means that you are answerable for the actions and omissions of your practice, regardless of advice or directions from another professional and/or non-professional.

1.4 You must adhere to the laws of the country in which you are practising.

1.5 The Society will not tolerate any discriminatory practices or behaviour, you and all members have a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, and therefore have a duty:

a to treat members, persons or group of persons with dignity at all times; and

b not to discriminate against or harass other members, persons or group of persons.  

2 As a member of the Society, you must at all times act so as to uphold the standing and reputation of the Society and of the profession.

2.1 You must not make, support or collaborate in any statement, written or otherwise, which is contrary to your professional opinion, or which you know to be misleading or unfair to others, or otherwise discreditable to the profession or the Society.

2.2 Council members, officers of the Society and others representing the Society in any capacity must act in the interest of the Society and must not use their position as representatives of the Society to benefit or further their business interests.

2.3 You must not misrepresent your category of membership of the Society, or that of anyone employed by you.

2.4 Registered Members may use the Registered Members' logo, as supplied by the Society, in their documentation and promotional material.


  • Where a Registered Member practices as a Sole Trader under a “trading as” name they are entitled to use the Registered Members Logo in conjunction with their “trading as name” so long as their own name is also present and apparent.
  • Where a Registered Member is a principal member of a multi-person practice, (i.e. a more than one-person practice) that practice will be entitled to use the Registered Member's Logo in conjunction with their practice name, but only when the Registered Member's full name is also clearly displayed.
  • Where a Registered Member is an employee or non-principal of a practice/business, that member may use the Registered Member logo in close association with their full name; no larger than the capital letter of their name.

2.5 The Society's logo may only be used by the Society itself unless it has given specific prior written consent otherwise.

3 As a member of the Society, you must act with integrity and avoid conflicts of interest

3.1 Before commencing any work for a client or employer you must disclose in writing any business, financial or personal interest of yours, or that of any partner, co- director, associate or employee, the existence of which, if not so declared, would or might be likely to raise either a conflict of interest between you and the client or employer or doubts about your integrity.

3.2 You must not (in a garden design practice) be a partner, co-director or take up employment with an unsuitable person. Examples of unsuitable persons are:

  • A person whose name has been removed from the Directory of Registered Garden Designers by virtue of disciplinary measures
  • A person disqualified from membership of a recognised professional body

3.3 You must refuse any gift, favour or hospitality that might be interpreted, now or in the future, as an attempt to obtain preferential consideration.

3.4 When you specify or recommend a product, contractor or any other service, you must ensure that your advice is based on your professional opinion as to the relative advantages and disadvantages of alternative products, contractors or services and is not based on commercial gain.

4 As a member of the Society, you must only undertake professional work for which you are able to provide adequate professional, financial and technical competence and resources.

4.1 This duty arises when a contract is entered into, and continues throughout the term of the contract. The duty does not extend to designers taking part in competitions or otherwise engaged in speculative work.

4.2 Where advisable, you must obtain additional expertise and advice from appropriately qualified individuals.

4.3 Where professional work is carried out on your behalf by an employee or by anyone else acting under your direct control, you are responsible for ensuring that such person is competent to perform the task and, if necessary, is adequately supervised. You remain responsible for all work prepared and issued under your name.

5 As a member of the Society, you must only promote your professional services in a truthful and responsible manner and such promotion must not be an attempt to subvert professional work from another designer.

5.1 In advertising your professional services or otherwise drawing them to the attention of a potential client, you must not make untruthful or misleading statements, nor claim to be better than other professional members. Special expertise, however, may be properly claimed and referred to.

5.2 Advertisements should conform, as appropriate, to the British Code of Advertising Practice and the ITC and Radio Code of Advertising Standards and Practice.

5.3 The business style of a practice should not be misleading nor be capable of being confused with another Practice or service.

5.4 In the knowledge that a client already has a contract for services provided by another member, you must not attempt to gain that contract.

5.5 Any advertisement or other promotional material that makes reference to the Society or uses the Registered Members' logo must clearly identify the Registered Member to whom such reference applies.

6 As a member of the Society, you must carry out your professional work faithfully and conscientiously and with proper regard to current technical and professional standards.

6.1 When acting between parties or giving advice, you must exercise impartial and independent professional judgement to the best of your ability and understanding.

6.2 You must perform your work with due skill, care and diligence.

6.3 You must ensure that you maintain and continually develop your professional knowledge and competence.

6.4 You must, in accordance with the Company’s CPD strategy, undertake and record a minimum of 25hrs of continuing professional development annually.” 

7 As a member of the Society, in carrying out or agreeing to carry out professional work you must pay due regard not only to the interests of your client but also to anyone who may reasonably be expected to be affected by your work.

7.1 Whilst your primary responsibility is to your clients, you should nevertheless have due regard to your wider responsibility to conserve and enhance the quality of the environment and its natural resources.

8 As a member of the Society, you must organise and manage your professional work responsibly and with regard to the interests of your clients.

8.1 You must not undertake professional work unless your terms of engagement have been recorded in writing, these to include:

a the scope of the work;

b the fee or method of calculating it; 

c any limitation of responsibilities.

8.2 You must keep your client informed of the progress of work undertaken on their behalf and of any matter that may significantly affect its quality or cost.

8.3 You must observe the confidentiality of your client's affairs and must not disclose confidential information without the prior consent of the client or other lawful authority, for example when disclosure is required by order of a court.

8.4 It is essential that you are covered by adequate and appropriate insurance, in accordance with statutory requirements. It is mandatory (as a member of the SGD) that you are also covered by Professional Indemnity insurance. You should ensure that contractors you recommend have adequate and appropriate insurances.

9 As a member of the Society, you must deal with disputes or complaints concerning your professional work or that of your practice or business promptly and appropriately.

9.1 It is recommended that each client is advised at the outset that:

a you are a member of the Society of Garden Designers and are obliged to comply with the Society's Code of Professional Conduct;

b if you and the client are not able to resolve any issue between yourselves, then the client is entitled to raise issues of professional conduct with the Society; and

c a copy of the Society's Code of Professional Conduct and Complaints Procedure are available on request.

9.2 Complaints should at every stage be handled courteously, sympathetically and where possible in accordance with the following time scale:

a an acknowledgement should be sent within 10 working days from the receipt of the complaint; and

b a response addressing the issues raised in the initial letter of complaint should be sent within 30 working days from its receipt.

9.3 If appropriate, you should encourage alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as arbitration or conciliation.

9.4 If you are unable to resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant, you should advise the complainant that any alleged breaches of the Code may be referred in writing to the Council of the Society. In such case, the Council may invite you and the complainant to attend a hearing. After considering all aspects of the complaint, the Council may make recommendations, failure to comply with which may result in expulsion from the Society.

9.5 Any complaint received by the Society regarding one of its members will be dealt with in accordance with the Society's Complaints Handling Procedure, a copy of which is available on request.

Further information

Printed copies of the Code of Professional Conduct can be obtained by contacting the Society Administrator at the address or email below or from the Members' section of the SGD website. Enquiries about the issues addressed in the Code of Professional Conduct should be directed in the first instance to the Society’s Admininstration Team using the details below, or at

Established 21st April 2009. Revised 14th October 2021 and 19th September 2017. Updated 7th February 2019