Code of Conduct

When Members of the Institute pass all parts of the Institute’s examination, 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 Institute'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 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 of its Members the highest standards of conduct. Thus Members are required to abstain from any behaviour which may discredit the Institute.

Students who are in the Institute’s Study Programme are also expected to sign a student Code of Conduct, in which they promise to uphold the highest standards of conduct while linked to the Institute.


Members of the Institute - Code of Conduct

1. Aims and Objectives of the Institute

1.1 The objects for which the Institute is established are set out as Objects in the Memorandum of Association.

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 On passing the examination, a candidate becomes entitled to become a Member of the Institute. Members of the Institute benefit from membership in various ways, in particular by entitlement to use the designation “Master of Wine” or other abbreviations such as “MW”. In turn the Institute benefits from its membership, as the Institute comprises its Members. Accordingly each Member’s conduct reflects on the Institute as a whole, and upon its Members individually. In order for all parties in this relationship to know clearly what is required of them, and to be aware of what actions will jeopardise their reputations and those of other Members and of the Institute itself, it is necessary to have a Code of Conduct by which all Members agree to abide.

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 of its Members the highest standards of conduct. Thus Members are required to abstain from any behaviour which may discredit the Institute.

2.3 Wine legislation endeavours to offer protection from dishonesty and, in particular, much is devised to ensure authenticity. 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 commercial conduct does not appear to conform to the highest ethical standards. The public recognition of its willingness to act in such circumstances can only enhance the Institute's reputation and influence.

2.4 The Institute's aims and objects are embraced by all Members when they accept the Institute's Code of Conduct upon admission as Members of the Institute. Thus, any action or utterance by a Member which demonstrably conflicts with any of these aims could lay the Member open to disciplinary action by the Institute.

3. The Code of Conduct

3.1 General - Members must recognise the importance of maintaining and enhancing the reputation of wine and the wine trade and related occupations in general, and the Institute in particular. It is a basic requirement that Members will 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.

3.2 Sales and promotion - Members engaged in sales, promotion, advertising and writing about wine professionally should be careful always to describe the subject truthfully and with good sense, neither claiming virtues or prospects that do not exist or cannot be justified nor unreasonably exaggerating merit. Individual and group endorsements of advertised products by Members of the Institute must be viewed in the same light.

3.3 Purchasing - Members involved in purchasing should at all times endeavour to buy honest and sound quality. They should not condone the marketing of any such quality as might damage public respect for and interest in wine.

3.4 Winemaking - Members involved in production of grapes or making of wine should not knowingly engage in any practice or technique (whether or not such practice or technique shall infringe Regulations relating to the production of wine) the practice of which by a Member may tend to bring the Institute into disrepute.

3.5 General commercial probity - Members involved in commerce are expected to maintain the highest standards of dealing, including (and without limitation) in relation to dealings through limited liability companies, and 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 where it is carried out.

3.6 Personal - Members are expected to be sensitive to the social and behavioural problems associated with the immoderate consumption of wine. Members must ensure that they do not engage in inappropriate behaviour which would reflect badly on the Institute.

3.7 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.

3.8 Aside from the Executive Director (who may or may not be a Member) or an Honorary Officer acting in his or her official capacity, or such other Member as may be appointed by Council from time to time, no Member shall presume to speak for the Membership as a whole or on behalf of the Institute, either expressly or implicitly.

3.9 Responsibility for others - Members must in principle accept that they will be regarded by the Institute as answerable for the commercial conduct of any person acting on their instructions.

3.10 Confidentiality - Members respect that certain aspects of Institute business may
involve confidential information, and Members agree to keep such information confidential.

4. The Investigating and Disciplinary Process

4.1 An alleged breach of this Code of Conduct must be communicated in writing to the Executive Director or Chairman of the Institute.

4.2 Alleged breaches of this Code of Conduct may be referred to an Investigating Panel appointed from time to time by the Council as may be necessary, with specific terms of reference within which to investigate and make a report and recommendation to the Council. In the event such a Panel is appointed, the Chairman will immediately notify the Member under investigation of the formation of the Panel.

4.3 Upon considering such report and recommendation, the Council (or a duly appointed sub-committee of the Council) may then decide:

a) to take no action; or

b) in the light of new evidence, to refer the matter to the Investigating Panel again or to a freshly constituted Investigating Panel for investigation or to a sub-committee of the Council for decision (any or each of which the Council may do more than once in its absolute discretion); or

c) to reprimand the Member in such terms as may be appropriate; or

d) to require the Member not to repeat the conduct; or

e) to suspend the Member from membership benefits either for a period of time stipulated by Council (or sub-committee) or indefinitely; or

f) to call upon the Member to resign in accordance with Article 2(f); or

g) to apply such other sanction (other than a monetary penalty) as may appear to the Council proportionate; and / or

h) a combination of the foregoing so far as they are not mutually exclusive

4.4 Failing the Member's agreement to resign (if so called upon) or to accept any other sanction, the Council or sub-committee will be at liberty to proceed in accordance with Article 2(f) to set in motion the procedure to lead to possible expulsion from the Institute.

4.5 Any Member whose conduct may be subject to disciplinary action under paragraph 4.2 of this Article 15 above will be given a copy of the Investigating Panel’s report prior to its presentation to Council or sub-committee and shall have the opportunity of representing his / her case either personally or by means of a representative to the Council or sub-committee. Such Member will receive a minimum of 21 days notice of the Council or sub-committee meeting at which his / her case will be considered, and will also have the opportunity of calling any person or persons whose evidence may be pertinent, provided that their names and relevance to the issue are notified in writing not less than seven days before the Member is to appear before the Council or sub-committee.

4.6 On its own initiative or if the Members by ordinary resolution so require or if the Council or sub-committee shall so resolve following consideration of a claim by the Member subject to disciplinary action alleging an irregularity in the conduct of the procedure, the Council or sub-committee may at any time and from time to time adjourn for any purpose and / or reconvene or recommence or rehear all or any part of the proceedings and in case of any reconvening recommencement or rehearing any sanction or other purportedly final decision of the Council or sub-committee shall be of no effect. The Council or sub-committee shall not be taken to have reached any final decision which is irreversible unless and until it shall have passed a resolution to the effect that it has finally decided the proceedings.

4.7 The authority to discipline any Member shall be vested solely in the Council or sub-committee, subject to the Member having been given the opportunity to present his / her case as provided in Paragraph 4.5 of this Article 15 above, and to the right of the Member and any member of the Council or sub-committee to appeal against any decision of the Council or sub-committee to a meeting of the Members and subject to the provisions of Article 2(f).

4.8 Any hearing of any appeal by the Members in General Meeting shall be undertaken as a rehearing of the matter; the Members shall follow the procedure set out in paragraphs 4.4 and 4.5 of this Article 15 in relation to the Council or sub-committee and at any such hearing the General Meeting may direct the Council or sub-committee to apply any sanction which is available to the Council or sub-committee under paragraph 4.3 of this Article 15 above.

5 The Declaration on Admission

5.1 Before admission as a Member of the Institute, candidates for admission will be required to sign a declaration. The original of this declaration, of which the following is the text, remains with the Institute.

Declaration on Admission
I. I confirm that I have read and understand the Code of Conduct of Members of the Institute of Masters of Wine.

II. As a condition of my admission into the Institute, I represent and warrant to the Institute that I have disclosed to Council any circumstance or fact whereby my admission to Membership may bring the Institute into disrepute and I acknowledge and confirm my obligation to conduct myself in all matters relating to wine and the wine trade in accordance with such Code (as amended from time to time) or any replacement from time to time adopted by the Institute.

III. I accept that should the Council of the Institute after due investigation determine my conduct at any time to be in breach of the Institute's Code of Conduct, the Council may take steps to terminate my Membership of the Institute, 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. 

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