Chartered Institute
of Linguists

The silent companion that speaks volumes


The CIOL Code of Professional Conduct



The CIOL Code of Professional Conduct

The principles of honour and sustainable business practices originated in Europe in Italian and North German trading centres around the 12th century and were embodied by the figure of the ‘honourable merchant’ who could sleep peacefully knowing they had done honest business. Over time, these principles were refined according to context but by the 20th century, fraught with global economic and political upheaval, long gone were the days when words of honour and a firm handshake were enough to close a business deal.

Standing out from the crowd

The term ‘professional’ (derived from late Latin professus = professed or avowed) meant that skilled workers were promising to execute their trade to the highest standards of service and customer care. Society, in return, expected the assurance that ‘professionals’ really did have the high levels of education, training and experience they professed to have, and to have a way to hold them accountable if not. Formalised commitments in the form of Codes of Professional Conduct started to emerge.

A promise to society

The CIOL Code of Professional Conduct has long been binding for all CIOL members and Chartered Linguists in the UK and beyond. It defines best practice, sets out expectations for professional and ethical behaviour and service standards, and what could happen if those expectations are not fulfilled. It gives assurance to communities, clients and employers as well as being a guiding compass for CIOL qualified linguists working hard at their daily business.

A refresh

More recently, we have felt that to serve society to its full we need to take account of the growing diversity of language roles beyond our all-important core of interpreters and translators. Linguists are also business developers, educationalists, journalists, government workers, cultural negotiators and much, much more! So, rather than constricting linguists into certain profiles, the refreshed Code takes a more expansive stance to those we work with or alongside. Approved by Council, it also intersects with our position on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in order to reflect our commitment to fair and equitable business practices.

A promise to oneself

We are all human. Economic, financial or personal pressures can result in the temptation to cut corners, do something outside your scope of expertise, overstep deadlines or accept work without the right credentials. I care enormously about my personal reputation as a working linguist. And as Chair of CIOL Council I care passionately about the reputation of the language community. Join me in making the Code part of your personal branding and making sure that those you work with are aware of it. It is your silent companion, a critical friend to help you along the way.


See the updated CIOL Code of Professional Conduct here.

Judith Gabler FCIL CL is Chair of CIOL Council. 


Views expressed on CIOL Voices are those of the writer and may not represent those of the wider membership or CIOL.