Select Page


When members of the IMW pass all parts of the MW exam, they have to sign a code of conduct before they are formally invited to be a Master of Wine.

All members are expected to affirm the IMW’s aim to uphold the highest standards of conduct within the wine industry. Wine is particularly vulnerable to abuse. While laws may be framed for the protection of those who buy and sell it, the surest safeguard will always be the integrity and honour of members of the industry. The IMW recognises this and therefore requires of its members the highest standard of conduct. Members are required to abstain from any behaviour which may discredit the IMW.

Students who are in the MW study programme are also expected to sign a student code of conduct, in which they promise to uphold the highest standard of conduct while linked to the IMW.

1. Aims and objectives of the IMW

1.1 The objects for which the Institute is established are set out as objects in the

1.2 The Council re-affirms the Institute’s aim to uphold the highest standards of commercial conduct within the wine industry. To achieve this aim, a Code of Conduct has been devised by which all Members are required to abide.

2. Reasons for the code of conduct

2.1 Members of the Institute benefit from membership in various ways, in particular by entitlement to use the designation “Master of Wine” or abbreviations such as “MW”. In turn, each Member’s conduct reflects on the Institute as a whole, and upon its Members individually. All Members benefit when the Institute’s reputation is high, and all suffer if a Member brings the Institute into disrepute.

2.2 Wine is particularly vulnerable to abuse. While laws may be framed for protection of those who buy and sell it, the surest safeguard will always be the integrity and honour of members of the industry. The Institute recognises this and therefore requires Members to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. Thus, Members are required to abstain from any behaviour which may discredit the Institute, its Members, and/or the reputation of the award of Master of Wine.

2.3 Wine legislation endeavours to offer protection from dishonesty. However, legislation does not always define precisely what is honourable and correct. The Institute reserves the right to take action not only when any infringement of the law is proved, but also when a Member’s conduct does not appear to conform to the highest ethical standards. The public recognition of the Institute’s willingness to act in such circumstances can only enhance the its reputation and influence.

2.4 The Institute employs staff in various parts of the world to pursue its objectives. Those staff (whether permanent or temporary) need to be able to work in a safe, respectful, environment and Members need to ensure by their actions and communications that this is guaranteed.

2.5 The Institute’s aims and objects are accepted by all Members when they sign the Code of Conduct upon admission as Members and reaffirmed each year on payment of the annual subscription. Thus, any action or communication by a Member which demonstrably conflicts with any of these aims could lay the Member open to disciplinary action by the Institute in accordance with section 6 below.

3. The principles to which MWs should adhere

Principle 1: Personal Integrity
Members shall behave with honour, respect, integrity and honesty at all times.

Principle 2: Professional Competence
Members shall act conscientiously, responsibly and proficiently in the course of their

Principle 3: Proper Relationships
Members shall respect the relevant rights and interests of each other, and of those
with whom they come into contact in the course of their business and in the course of
their role as Masters of Wine.

4. Rules of member behaviour

4.1 General – It is a basic requirement that Members will conduct themselves at the highest ethical standards to ensure so far as lies in their power that they and any organisation of which they are part will observe all relevant laws and regulations, including in particular the Institute’s Articles of Association, in both letter and spirit. This requirement includes, but is not limited to, the following rules.

4.2 Sales, promotion, education and communication – Members engaged in sales, promotion, advertising, educating, writing and otherwise communicating about wine professionally should always describe the subject and their business truthfully and with good sense, neither claiming virtues nor prospects that do not exist or cannot be justified, nor unreasonably exaggerating merit. This also applies to individual and group endorsements of advertised products.

4.3 Purchasing – Members involved in purchasing should at all times endeavour to buy honest and sound wine. They should not condone the marketing of wine that is not fit for purpose and may damage public respect for and interest in wine, nor of counterfeit, mislabelled or fake wine.

4.4 Winemaking – Members involved in production of grapes or making of wine should not knowingly engage in any practice or technique (whether or not legally permitted) and including the production of counterfeit wine, that may tend to bring the Institute into disrepute.

4.5 General commercial probity – Members involved in commerce are expected to maintain the highest standards of dealing. This includes transaction through limited liability companies. They should not knowingly engage in any enterprise or commercial practice which would be regarded as unacceptable by the majority of Members of the Institute, whether or not such practice may comply with local laws.

4.6 Alcohol – Members are expected to be sensitive to the social and behavioural problems associated with the immoderate consumption of alcohol and must ensure that they do not engage in inappropriate behaviour.

4.7 Influence and behaviour – Being an MW brings with it a level of power and influence and that power should not be abused in any way. Specifically, Members must not engage in any discrimination (including but not limited to gender, race, religious belief, sexual identity, and physical or mental disability), harassment or intimidation (including but not limited to verbal, physical, sexual, or bullying) or coercion (whether explicit or implied). This applies to dealings with other Members, students, members of the public, employees of the Institute and other members of the wine industry and includes statements or actions which could be construed to be based on any form of prejudice.

4.8 Education – The education of future Masters of Wine is one of the main activities of the Institute. Members (especially those involved in mentoring, advising, training and examining) must not abuse the relationship with students for personal or professional benefit. The educational programme of the Institute must be implemented with respect for students and support for their learning.

4.9 Members are required to preserve the good name of the Institute at all times and refrain from any public statements detrimental to the Institute or (in relation to statements concerning another Member or Members) which tend to bring the Institute into disrepute.

4.10 Responsibility for others – Members must, as a matter of principle, accept that they will be regarded by the Institute as responsible as far as reasonably possible for the commercial conduct of employees and any person acting on their instructions.

4.11 Confidentiality – At all times, Members involved in activities on behalf of the Institute (including but not exclusively education, examination and management) need to remember their responsibility to maintain confidentiality where required about the work of the Institute, and of individual Members and students.

4.12 Social media – The need for Members to preserve the good name of the Institute extends to their use of social media. Posts on social media cannot be easily controlled and what Members say or further publicise, whether or not intended, may affect the reputation of the Institute and may damage it. This includes, but is not limited to: professional judgments; personal views; publicising the views of others; commentary about wine and the wine industry; any other topics in their capacity as a Master of Wine. All other paragraphs of this Code of Conduct apply equally to the conduct of Members online. Members shall comply with any reasonable request by the Institute to modify or delete posts on social media where the Council determines such posts to be in breach of this Code of Conduct

4.13 Aside from the Executive Director (who may or may not be a Member) or an Honorary Officer (being the Chair, Vice Chair or Honorary Treasurer) acting in his or her official capacity, or any other Member as may be appointed by Council from time to time, no Member shall without express authorisation claim to speak for the Membership as a whole or on behalf of the Institute, either expressly or implicitly.

5. Members’ use of the IMW name and trade marks

5.1 The Institute has registered several trade marks (which includes the names and initials MW), in order to assist in preserving the high standard of the title “Master of Wine” and the post-nominal “MW”, as well as the reputation of the Institute. It is also the proprietor of various unregistered trade marks, in which it has built up unregistered trade mark rights by virtue of extensive use. The Institute’s portfolio of trade marks includes:

a) Master(s) of Wine

b) MW

c) The Institute of Masters of Wine

d) IMW




5.2 The Members are permitted to use the trade marks in accordance with and subject to the terms of this paragraph 5, the Articles of Association and any other guidance issued by the Council for clarification from time to time.

5.3 Members may use the terms “Master of Wine”, “Masters of Wine” or “MW” to indicate Membership of the Institute, subject to the Articles of Association.

5.4 Unless explicitly authorised to do so by the Institute, Members must refrain from explicitly or implicitly using the trade marks in any manner which suggests their activities or services are endorsed by or provided on behalf of the Institute or its membership as a whole.

5.5 Except with the express written permission of the Institute Members should always capitalise the first letters of “Master” and “Wine”, or capitalise the entire name “MASTER OF WINE”. The post-nominal “MW” should always be capitalised, unless and to the extent that the circumstances do not allow for capitalisation (for example, in an email address or domain name).

5.6 Members may not register trade marks, designs or domain names containing the words “Master(s) of Wine”, “MW”, “The Institute of Masters of Wine”, or “IMW”, or the trade marks listed under paragraph 5.1(e) to (g), or any confusingly similar marks, without the express written permission of the Institute other than a domain name with the name of the Member followed by the letters MW or mw which will be automatically allowed.

5.7 Members may not use any of the trade marks in the name, logo or byline of another business, organisation or entity (whether incorporated or not, and wherever situated) without the express written permission of the Institute.

5.8 Members may not use the trade marks listed under paragraph 5.1(e) to (g) for any reason without the express written permission of the Institute.

5.9 Members may not use, or encourage, enable or assist non-Members to use, the names “Master(s) of Wine”, “MW”, “part qualified MW”, “The Institute of Masters of Wine” or “IMW”, or any similar such names, in any way other than designating membership of the Institute and in a trade mark sense, i.e. indicating that the qualification, education and other services offered by the Institute originate from the Institute. In particular, the names must not be used in a descriptive or generic sense such as referring to a person or group as “Master(s) of Wine” who may be knowledgeable about wine but who are in fact not Members of the Institute.

6. The complaints process

The IMW has a carefully constructed formal complaints process which is designed to be flexible to cover a range of circumstances and the type of complaint. Alleged breaches of this Code of Conduct, shall be acknowledged within ten working days and all allegations are taken very seriously. For further information, including to register a complaint, please contact Julian Gore-Booth, IMW Executive Director: 

Additionally, concerns may be shared anonymously through the IMW incident management system here. This third-party, technology-focused platform preserves the confidentiality of the individual and enables IMW management or an independent third-party to access the report, post follow-up questions, and seek a resolution.

7. The declaration on admission

Before admission as a Member of the Institute, and implicitly by payment of a Member’s annual subscription, candidates for admission will be required to agree (in such form as the Council may decide) to a declaration (as amended from time to time).

Declaration on Admission

I confirm that I have read and understand the Code of Conduct of Members of the Institute of Masters of Wine (the “Institute”). As a condition of my admission into, and continuing membership of, the Institute, I confirm to the Institute that I have disclosed to the Council of the Institute any circumstance or fact whereby my admission to and continued Membership of the Institute may bring the Institute into disrepute. I acknowledge and confirm my obligation to conduct myself in accordance with the Code of Conduct (as amended from time to time) or any replacement adopted by the Institute.

I accept that should the Council, after due investigation, determine my conduct at any time to be in breach of the Code of Conduct, the Council may take steps to terminate my Membership, remove my name from the Register of Masters of Wine, and thus withdraw my right to use that designation or its abbreviated form ‘MW’, or apply any other penalty as defined in its Code of Conduct.