The objectives of the International Federation of Automobile Experts (I.F.A.E./ F.I.E.A.) as summed up at the International Congress of Paris in 1980 are the following:
Within the perspective of the realisation of this last objective, the F.I.E.A. has, among others, favoured the writing of two reports (hereinafter “the Reports”), based on a few countries of reference, to establish the specificities of the profession of motor vehicle expert and to delimit the relations of the latter with other motor vehicle professionals (manufacturers, repair professionals, insurers) and individuals.
On the basis of these reports the F.I.E.A. has made two findings as to the profession of motor vehicle expert:The regulatory (or auto regulation) framework of the profession of motor vehicle expert varies significantly from a Member State to another. Those differences have been highlighted by the Reports which, on the basis of several reference countries, have underlined the particularities of the profession of motor vehicle expert and defining the relations with other motor vehicle professionals (manufacturers, repair professionals, insurers) and individuals. As to the F.I.E.A. those divergences may lead to market distortions, such as:
- from the service providers' point of view: competition seen as unfair as it comes from service providers whose activity is submitted to a less restrictive regulation and who would exercise their freedom to provide services on the basis of the “country of origin” principle in Member States where the regulatory pressure stays higher;
from the consumer’s point of view: too poor quality or too high prices of provided services .the role of the motor vehicle expert and the market in which he operates have considerably evolved over the last few years. Notably:the concentration noted within the insurance market has changed the working environment of the motor vehicle expert. As a matter of fact, some insurance companies have hired their own experts, developed networks of registered repair technicians whereby the mission of the expert has progressively collapsed to conducting verifications from a distance;the development of part pricing systems and repair times (for example AUDATEX) in combination with the increasing computerization of the repair technicians limits the disputes raised with regard to repair prices; the priority given to security requirements and the improvement of public transport have entailed a decrease of the accident quota;the development of the automotive technology demands permanent updating of knowledge and the acquisition of new competences;expertise has a broader scope than the mere evaluation of material damages: it contributes, by an assessment of the global state of reliability of a vehicle, to an objective of improvement of road safety.
These evolutions require the recognition of the framework of activity of the motor vehicle expert at European level.
According to the F.I.E.A., the recognition of a European status for the motor vehicle expert implies the drafting of rules of ethics (hereafter “the Code of Ethics” or “the Code”) that shall apply to any person, physical or legal, that practices an appraisal occupation or that offers services in that field.
The national organisations, as members of the F.I.E.A. and established on the territory of a Member State of the European Union, commit not to register or to withdraw the registration of “licensed” motor vehicle experts from any person that does not scrupulously comply with the rules of ethics described in the present Code of Ethics.
The I.F.A.E in its desire to support the development and the future of motor vehicle experts in Europe, has decided to create a Code made up of essential principles that govern the practice of the profession of motor vehicle expert and the access to the European recognition of the title of “expert”.
Fully aware of the legal or practical disparities existing between the different member States, the F.I.E.A. has considered that the definition of a “hard core” containing the essential rules, supported and encouraged by the European Commission, is the best way to guarantee a common future for the motor vehicle experts.
Nevertheless, any expert wishing to keep an exclusively local or national dimension to his activity, will of course be allowed to limit himself to satisfy the sole national requirements related to the practice of his occupation.
Contrarily, the motor vehicle expert engaged in the development process and deployment of his professional occupation on an international scale will be offered the possibility to satisfy the European demands as drawn out by the F.I.E.A. with the support of the European Commission.
These demands are gathered in the Code of Ethics so as to ensure, by these means, a European recognition of the status of “European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed”.
The deliverance, by the national organisations member of the F.I.E.A., of a European registration and certification benefiting the motor vehicle expert in satisfying the conditions laid down by the Code of Ethics and the access to the title of “European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed ”, in the mindset of the provisions of European Law regarding freedom of establishment, freedom to provide services and harmonization of professional qualifications, must enable registered European motor vehicle experts to deploy their professional activity on a European scale without having to cumulate all the requirements laid down by the national regulations concerned, as they may constitute restrictions to the above mentioned freedoms.
By this choice of adopting a code of conduct, the F.I.E.A. stays in line with the European targeted objectives, notably with the adoption of the 2006/123/EC Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on Service in the internal market (OJ L 376/36 of 27.12.2006).
This Directive set forth, in Article 37, paragraph 1, that:
“Member States shall, in cooperation with the Commission, take accompanying measures to encourage the drawing up at Community level, particularly by professional bodies, organisations and associations, of codes of conduct aimed at facilitating the provision of services or the establishment of a provider in another Member State, in conformity with Community law.
The Directive also encompasses several recitals which precise the content and the aim of these codes of conduct whose adoption is encouraged:
“It is necessary to provide that the Member States, in cooperation with the Commission, are to encourage interested parties to draw up codes of conduct at “Community level, aimed, in particular, at promoting the quality of services and taking into account the specific nature of each profession. Those codes of conduct should comply with Community law, especially competition law. They should be compatible with legally binding rules governing professional ethics and conduct in the Member States.(113)
“Member States should encourage the setting up of codes of conduct, in particular, by professional bodies, organisations and associations at Community level. These codes of conduct should include, as appropriate to the specific nature of each profession, rules for commercial communications relating to the regulated professions and rules of professional ethics and conduct of the regulated professions which aim, in particular, at ensuring independence, impartiality and professional secrecy. In addition, the conditions to which the activities of estate agents are subject should be included in such codes of conduct. Member States should take accompanying measures to encourage professional bodies, organisations and associations to implement at national level the codes of conduct adopted at Community level (114).
“Codes of conduct at Community level are intended to set minimum standards of conduct and are complementary to Member States’ legal requirements. They do not preclude Member States, in accordance with Community law, from taking more stringent measures in law or national professional bodies from providing for greater protection in their national codes of conduct (115).
Taking these orientations into account, the F.I.E.A. has drawn up a Code including the essential values that the motor vehicle experts have to respect not only in their relations with other experts but also in their relations with consumers, other motor vehicles professionals and contractors.
These values are inspirited by the ones emitted by the CEPLIS (European Council for Liberal Professions) which concern the common values to the regulated professions in Europe.
In this context, the Code contains rules related:to the experts’ independence and impartiality: independence guarantees the expert’s freedom of judgment of the motor vehicle expert and a service focused only on the client’s interest, independently to any external influence. Impartiality should allow avoiding the risks of conflicts of interests and guaranteeing that the expert’s judgement is not influenced by no other activity;to the expert’s loyalty: the expert informs his client about the progress of his mission, about the content of his final report, about the general reliability of the vehicle and, if need be, about his fees. Besides, the expert refrain from any unfair behaviour towards other experts ;to the access to the profession: the motor vehicle expertise implies technical knowledge the learning of which impose a particular education or, at least, a professional experience of a minimum duration;to the ongoing education: in order to provide the best service, the motor vehicle expert has to regularly update and/or deepen his skills ;to the professional integrity and dignity: the motor vehicle expert activity must not have as only or main objective a commercial end; the expert must also respect the ethics of the profession and notably provide his clients access to any necessary information with respect to the supplied services and their prices ;to the professional responsibility: the expert has to guarantee the quality of his services and cover them by a professional insurance ;to control: the respect of values described here above imposes that the profession establishes control and sanction mechanisms and procedures.
The aim of these rules is to establish a link of trust between the citizens, the professionals and the authorities, and doing so, to valorise the quality and specificity of the motor vehicle expert ’s services.
The Code participates to the “quality approach” that drives the F.I.E.A. According to the F.I.E.A., the duty of the motor vehicle expert to supply a high quality level service to his client implies the drawing up of a certain number of principles and/or of procedures inherent to the particular nature of the motor vehicle expert profession. In order to preserve and increase the quality of the supplied service, the motor vehicle expert commits himself to respect the Code for the benefit of the consumers.
An agreement at European level about a code of conduct, reflecting the specificities and the values of the motor vehicle expert profession, could serve as a basis for the European recognition of such a text by the European Commission.
The present Code of Ethics is meant to be a model and a guide for ethical rules in motor vehicle appraisal.
Article 1: Scope of the rules of ethics
Any physical or legal person, registered and certified as European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed , commits to scrupulously abide by the rules of the present Code, this, for any motor vehicle appraisal mission that he would take on.
The legal persons can only be granted the License as referred to in Article 4 if all the Experts who carry on their activities within its structure have individually been granted the License. In this hypothesis the legal person expressively commits itself that his/her representatives and staff equally fulfil all the requirements of the present Code.
The national associations and federations members of the F.I.E.A. (hereafter the “National Bodies”, as referred to in Annex 1) commit themselves the abide by the provisions of the present Code, according to the F.I.E.A. statutes and to ensure their members comply with them.
Article 2: Impediments
Anyone who has been charged, sentenced or convicted of theft, fraud, possession of stolen goods, breach of trust, perjury, corruption or trading of favours cannot obtain the status of European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed.
Article 3: Incompatibility
The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed carries on his activity independently.
In order to avoid the risk of conflict of interests the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall not carry on any professional activity within the sectors of motor vehicle distribution and insurance.
Article 4 : License
Any physical person, under employment contract or not, or any legal person, recognised as a motor vehicle expert in his own country- where he has his principal place of business- and member of a National Body, may be granted by the F.I.E.A. the title of “European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed” as far as he fulfils the conditions set forth in Article 49 of the EC Treaty as well as the European secondary legislation applicable to his activities.
A legal person can only be granted the License and be entitled with the rights related thereto if all the Experts who carry on their activities within its structure have individually been granted the License. Should it not be the case, only the individually licensed Experts can be entitled with the rights related to the License.
Any person wishing to:be registered on the European Experts – F.I.E.A. Licensed register ;to benefit from the European title of “European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed”;to use the distinctive logo (see Annex 5) informing the user of the service that he complies with the principles of conduct of the present Code;
shall submit a formal written request by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt at the secretariat of the National Body, as referred to in Annex 1.
Within the meaning of the present article the expression “European Expert – F.I.E.A. Licenced title” exclusively refers to the licence granted by the F.I.E.A. to the motor vehicle experts legally authorised to carry on their profession within a member State of the European Union who complies with the provision of the present Code, without prejudice of national laws or similar expressions referred to in the applicable national law.
The motor vehicle expert, member of a National Body, who applies for registration in the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed Register, shall communicate a complete application file, as described in Annexe 2, encompassing notably diplomas and professional titles, if applicable working experience certificates issued by the professional authorities or National Bodies, and the documents related to eventual disciplinary procedures before a National Body.
The entire file is transmitted by the National Body to the F.I.E.A. for approval.
The Licence issuing procedure, the control of the file’s content and the fulfilment of the required conditions is controlled by the F.I.E.A. as from the reception of the registration file from the National Body.
The submission of the registration file may be subject to charges.
The F.I.E.A. holds a register of the motor vehicle experts benefiting for the title of European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed.
Article 5: Mission of the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed.
The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed carries on various main missions, notably:for damaged motor vehicle as well as cycles and related vehicles, to carry on any operation and assessments that are necessary to determine the origin, the amount and the value of those damages and their repairing;to give an opinion about the re-entry into service of motor vehicle, about safety conditions, inform its owner and competent authorities when required, and deliver any attestation, certificate or authorisation legally allowed;to carry on crash reconstruction in the framework of amicable or judicial survey;to evaluate the value of new or old, damaged or not, vehicles ;In case of dispute, to search for and to determine the origin and cause of malfunction, latent defect, defect or conformity default;to control the good functioning and the conformity to security standards of any vehicle;to verify the elements of repairing and invoicing.
Article 6 : CompetenceThe European Expert – F.I.E.A. Licensed shall make enquiries about the nature and the difficulties of the mission proposed before he accepts it. The Expert shall only accept the mission whether he has the conviction to have the technical competence, the means, and the necessary time to carry it out properly. He shall refuse any mission or part of mission if he has not the relevant competence or insufficient means.Should the Expert not be able to assume the proposed mission himself, as referred to in paragraph 1 of this article, the Expert may: either subcontract this mission to a competent Expert. The European Expert – F.I.E.A. Licensed can subcontract certain missions only the another European Expert – F.I.E.A. Licensed complying with the principles of the present Code;or recommend to the parties the name of other European Experts – F.I.E.A. Licensed who could carry out the mission as far he knows that the Expert(s) compl(y)(ies) with those principles.
Article 7 : Ongoing trainingThe European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must take the necessary actions to maintain up to date his knowledge and his competence in the field of motor vehicle appraisal, in accordance with the Annex 3.The control of the fulfilment of this duty is carried on by the National Body, as referred to in Annex 1.The members of the F.I.E.A. commit themselves to propose ongoing training actions to their members, under the close supervision of the F.I.E.A.The F.I.E.A. will consider, if need be, to propose a harmonisation of the ongoing training practices.
Article 8: Conflict of interestsThe European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed will fail to accept any mission if this intervention is incompatible with his personal interests.When the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed practices his occupation in cooperation with other European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed, under whatever form, the causes of conflict of interests will extend to these other persons.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall mention every circumstances that may lead to a conflict of interests, or that may give rise to doubt as to his impartiality, to any person who is about to entrust him with an appraisal mission.The informed contractor can still decide to entrust the Expert with the mission.An European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed that was brought to decline an appraisal mission may recommend to the parties, the names of other European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed likely to carry out the mission, in as much as he knows, that the recommended motor vehicle experts equally abide to the principles laid down in the present Code. Moreover, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed may only subcontract certain missions to other European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed bound by the principles of the present Code.
Article 9: Payment of the European Expert- F.I.E.A. LicensedBefore the contractor fully entrusts the Expert with a mission, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall provide an accurate estimate of the work’s costs or at least the calculation methods of his fees as well as the time period required to achieve the mission.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall set its costs and fees with moderation and fairness. His costs and fees should neither be insufficient nor excessive.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must not accept any other form of payment or advantages.By the end of the mission the Expert shall provide his contractor with an accurate and detailed invoice.
Article 10: Execution of the appraisalSo as to guarantee correct execution of the appraisal, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed commits to complete the following minimal verifications, observations and appraisals (more fully detailed in the Annex 4) as far as they are possible and not excluded from his mission. Should he not be able to carry them out, the Expert shall give the reason(s).
Article 11 : ImpartialityDuring any appraisal mission, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed will always bear in mind that he is entrusted with a mission because of his impartiality and honesty duties as referred to in the present Code. Therefore, he shall in any circumstances remain objective even if he is entrusted or paid by one of the parties.Accordingly, taking into account the legitimate interest of his contractor, he shall carry on his task with impartiality.As far as possible the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall verify the statements and assertions of the contractor, if need be consulting third parties, witnesses or experts, or other parties involved in the accident. He shall make enquiries about their existence. He shall report the way the mission has been conducted, report the refusals raised, report the oral or written statements and the collected documents. The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed will not accept a mission if he is not able, for any reason whatsoever, to guarantee that his conduct will be totally impartial vis-à-vis the concerned parties or individuals concerned by this appraisal or the dispute at stake.When carrying on his tasks, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall refrain from any biased or defamatory comments towards any person involved (party, experts, motor vehicle professional, insurer, other motor vehicle experts).The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed who, during an ongoing appraisal, considers he can no longer guarantee his impartiality has the duty to inform the parties thereof and interrupt his mission.
Article 12: Honesty and Integrity of the European Expert- F.I.E.A. LicensedWhen the Expert is not entrusted in the framework of a judicial procedure, he shall inform the person involved in the mission about the amicable nature of his mission, about the hearing of both sides and about the identity of the contractor.He shall inform the involved parties that they are free to entrust another Expert.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall give his client experienced and specialised advices. He is committed with the respect of their relationship based on trust. The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall preliminary inform the interested parties about the procedure he proposes to carry on.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed informs the interested parties about every dispute on his technical conclusion, on the evaluation of the damages or on the appraisal of the repair costs, as soon as he knows it.The client’s interest shall be Expert main focus. Any client shall be given access to any necessary information related to the services of the Expert. In particular, he informs all the parties about the availability of the present Code on the F.I.E.A. website.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must abstain from spreading any information which he knows, or is supposed to know, incomplete or incorrect.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed may not accept a mission unless he knows he is fully capable of completing it by means of his competences, aptitudes and professional experience, according to Article 6 of the present Code.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed should not attempt to obtain any missions by means of payment nor by granting any other advantages to possible contractors, intermediates or any other person(s) concerned with the assigning of missions. The same rule shall by applicable after the assigning of the mission.In case of uncertainty with regard to the intention of the contractor or the content of the mission, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must speak with the contractor before accepting the mission. The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall inform him about his rules of conduct, according to Article 5 of the present Code.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed may not substitute the owner of the vehicle unless he has received a written mandate authorising him to do so. The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must transfer, within the shortest timeframe, any sum(s) of money received for the benefit of the principal, except upon previous authorisation from the principal, according to Article 18 of the present Code.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must abstain from falsely presenting himself to anyone approaching him in view of assigning him to a mission, as having any qualification(s) or professional experience which in fact he does not have.Generally, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed is aware that any breach of his integrity duty may have adverse effect on the motor vehicle experts’ reputation in general.
Article 13: ConfidentialityWhen the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed has to forward information or documents, he will ensure that these information and documents are exclusively of technical nature and related to his services, excluding any element related to privacy of the persons concerned with the appraisal procedure.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed will always ensure he has the authorisation of one party, to transmit to another party any documents or information related to privacy that was communicated to him.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must ensure that his staff or any person working with/for him will comply to these confidentiality principles.
Article 14 : Hearing of both sidesThe Expert can be asked to carry on his mission without hearing of both parties. In this case, he shall abide by the rule of conduct as referred to in Articles 11, 12, 13 of the present Code.When the Expert is entrusted for a survey with hearing of both sides, he shall make sure that all the parties have a non discriminatory access to statements and documents received by the Expert in the conduct of his mission. He shall make sure that all the parties can submit their comments within a reasonable period of time. Should he not take them into account in his report, the Expert shall motivate his refusal.When the Expert communicates documentation (supporting documents or information) he shall make sure that professional secrecy, business secrets, and private life are respected.
Article 15 : ReportThe European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall provide his contractor with an accurate and complete report, with the agreed period of time and communicated in the form agreed between the parties.The report must encompass a recap of the process(es) of the appraisal and notably mention the documentation, supporting documents or statements from third parties, other Experts or the parties involved. A list of these documents shall at least be enclosed to the report as well as the full written comments of the all concerned parties.The report shall mention, if applicable, the judicial entrustment of the Expert, the amicable nature of the appraisal, whether or not both sides have been heard, the various steps of the appraisal, the moment of the surveys (before or after repairing), the identity and capacity of the persons attending the appraisal , and the documents transmitted by the owner.The report mentions, if applicable, the intervention of other Experts.The report must also indicate the reasons why the elements of evaluation communicated by the repair technician and/or owner were not retained.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall send the report to the principal enclosing a precise recap of the services provided and a statement of costs and fees, according to Article 9. The Expert shall send a copy of the final report to the owner of the vehicle.
Article 16: Dismissal of the European Expert- F.I.E.A. LicensedShould the contractor put an end to the appraisal, the provided services shall be paid to the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed, unless otherwise stipulated by contract.Should the contractor hire another Expert for the same mission after the dismissal, the new Expert shall not start his work before the first Expert has been paid his costs and fees.
Article 17: Relations with other ExpertsThe European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed commits to treating the other Experts he can meet during his mission according to the applicable rules of conduct. In any case, the Expert shall behave with consideration and trust.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall avoid notably to propose his services or try to get hired for a mission that has already been assigned to another European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed.The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed commits not to speak in a defamatory or unfavourable manner about another Expert or of the work performed by the latter. Should one ask him to express an opinion, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must do so with moderation, objectivity and integrity.Any possible disagreements or disputes among European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed must not interfere with the interest(s) of the principal.
Article 18 : Holding of Funds for Third Parties
Unless otherwise agreed with the contractor, the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed who may hold funds for third parties shall:transfer these funds on a specific bank account;not hold these funds longer than necessary;
Article 19 : Professional insurance and SecuritiesThe European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed must be covered by an insurance policy guaranteeing his civil liability or obtain securities required by applicable national law or rules of conduct. Where no such rules are applicable, the European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed, registered by the National Bodies, member of the F.I.E.A., shall subscribe an insurance policy guaranteeing their civil liability for the services referred to in Article 5 of the present Code as well as for any other mission they could carry on. The compensation limit is 2,000,000€ per event and for bodily damage.
Article 20 : Commercial Communications
The commercial communication by European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed, designed to promote the services or image of the European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall be made in accordance with the principles guiding the profession of motor vehicle expert, notably: decency, honesty and sincerity (see Annex 6).
Article 21 : ArchivesThe European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed shall ensure the archiving of his files after closing for the period of time required by the applicable national law or rules of conduct. The time period of the archives’ preservation shall never be inferior to the prescription period for judicial actions that the contractor or another person could bring against the Expert, according to the national law applicable to the relation between the contractor and the European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed.
Article 22: Modifications
The European Experts- F.I.E.A. Licensed must inform the National Body as referred to in Annex 1 within 30 days of any change in location of occupation, temporary and/ or definitive cessation of occupation as well as any circumstance or new activity that may be incompatible with the occupation of European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed.
Article 23 : Renewal or Withdrawal of the License
The Licence referred to in Article 4 is granted for a period of 3 year with possibility of renewal according to Article 4 of the present Code.
The License and the rights conferred upon its holder are null and void :if the Expert does not exercise the profession of motor vehicle expert anymore;if the License is withdrawn according to the provisions of the present Code;if the National Body the Expert is a member of is excluded from the F.I.E.A.
The National Bodies duly inform the F.I.E.A. of the eventual termination of business of their members.
Article 24 : Sanctions
In case of default to the present Code of Ethics by a European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed, the F.I.E.A. may issue any of the following sanctions: a warning, a reprimand, or the suspension of the License (for a time period set by the F.I.E.A.).
The European Expert- F.I.E.A. Licensed could also face disciplinary proceedings in case of breach of labour law, accountancy rules or tax law or rules issued by his national organisation related hereto.
Article 25 : Disciplinary Procedure
The sanctions referred to in Article 24 are issued according to the Rules of Procedures enclosed to the present Code (Annexe 7).