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Adhering to the Code of Conduct

Over the last 12 months, OMARA sanctioned 28 Migration Agents for breaching the Code of Conduct.  These sanctions are published on OMARA’s website and publicly disclose the name of the Migration Agent, sanction details as well as nature of the investigation.

Understanding the Code of Conduct is vital for both the consumer as well as the agent. Code of Conduct is the key document which underpins the relationship between the Registered Migration Agent (RMA) and the regulator, the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) is the “Code of Conduct”. That document provides a framework for compliance and, in my view a useful platform for the development of successful practice in Migration law.

Although on one view the Code can be viewed as a compliance tool, I prefer to approach the Code as a codification of a system of work that requires a standardised approach which is ultimately beneficial rather than oppressive.

The Code of Conduct can be your sword and your shield…it can also be the rod for your own back.

The Code of Conduct was amended from 1 January 2012.  Amendments were made to Parts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 of the Code.

The changes allow for the implementation of certain consumer protection measures and include a number of notification requirements to increase consistency throughout the Code. The changes are in line with the 2007-2008 Review of Statutory Self-regulation of the migration advice profession.

An overview of the changes is available from the Department of Immigration’s website.

The key to understanding the Code is to examine its aims.

  • 1.10 (a) Proper standards for the Conduct of an RMA This aim is a “motherhood” statement but points the way to what might underpin the business of an RMA. The reference to “proper standards” is laden with value and suggests a minimum standard which must be complied with by the RMA.
  • (b) Minimum attributes and abilities This aim covers the field in so far as it sets out the parameters for practice. This and the paragraphs (b) (i) to (h) constitute the backbone of the RMA’s obligations and it is the gloss on the specific rules; a breach of which can have very serious consequences.
  • 1.11 The Code is not exhaustive but simply sets out in general terms the expectations of competence and responsibility.
  • 1.12 The lawful interests of the client are an overriding duty.
  • 1.13 Subsequent amendments to the Code may have the effect of varying a contract with a client.

On review of recent sanctions, it is apparent that whilst majority of agents comply with Code of Conduct and adhere to professional standard, from time to time there are mistakes made, both innocent and sinister. Such mistakes can cause an agent to have their registration suspended or cancelled.

Where to go for more information.

The document (The Code) itself is the primary source of information for any migration agent to ensure that they are always compliant with professional standards.  Reviewing recent decisions involving misconduct by agents is another useful tool to understanding how the Code is implemented in practice.

And finality, peer to peer networking is another opportunity to ensure that registered agents always remain compliant with the Code. 

This week, I will be running a webinar on Understanding the Code of Conduct.  The webinar is will focus on the Code of Conduct and the role the Code plays in day to day practice as a migration agent.  The session will also address real and practical scenarios for migration agents to consider. To secure your spot, visit: https://legaltrainingaustralia.com/webinar-cpd/

This is more than a CPD or information session, I will offer you practical tips on ensure that you and your practice remains compliant with the Code and provide you with useful references and guidelines which are simple to follow and effective at all times.

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