A recent judgement of the English Court of Appeal in the matter of The Project Management Institute, R (On the Application Of) v The Minister for the Cabinet Office & Ors  EWCA Civ 21 has produced some interesting findings.
The appeal by PMI from a judgement in the UK High Court related to a decision by the UK Government to recommend to the Privy Council, the Queen grant a Royal Charter to the Association for Project Management (APM). The PMI appeal has been unanimously rejected on all grounds.
In the UK, the granting of a Royal Charter is restricted to eminent professional bodies or charities which have a solid record of achievement and are financially sound. In the case of professional bodies they should represent a field of activity which is unique and not covered by other professional bodies.
The APM is the largest project management institute in the UK (over 20,000 members), PMI has around 7000 members in the UK. The Privy Council had found that the APM substantially met the key criteria for a professional association: the institution concerned should comprise members of a unique profession, and should have as members most of the eligible field for membership, without significant overlap with other bodies. PMI disputed this finding and the processes used to reach this decision (importantly PMI were not arguing project management is not a profession, rather the APM did not meet the five administrative criteria to be awarded the Royal Charter).
The Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld the trial Judge’s key finding that: I am satisfied that the [government] committee’s decision was a proper application of the published policy taken as a whole. The committee was entitled to recommend the grant of a Charter to APM on the basis that each of the five main criteria was met either to a substantial degree or in full and that there was a compelling public interest in favour of such a grant.
The statement from APM on the publication of the award says:
The Court of Appeal has today [22nd January 2016] handed down its judgement with respect to an appeal brought by the Project Management Institute (PMI) against the Government’s recommendation to the Privy Council to grant the award of a Royal Charter to the Association for Project Management (APM).
The Appeal Court Judges have confirmed the earlier decision of the High Court to reject PMI’s appeal. The full judgement is available on the Court of Appeal website.
APM remains committed to achieving Chartered status for the benefit of both the profession as a whole and the wider community.
It has reconfirmed its view that it remains for the Privy Council to decide, in the light of its published guidance and the individual circumstances of the organisation, whether a Charter ought to be granted.
APM continues to look forward to the Privy Council determining the application in due course.
However, even before the granting of the Royal Charter, we now have confirmation by the UK Court of Appeal that project management, as represented by the APM in the UK, is a profession and as such, the APM is able to be granted a Royal Charter.
Unfortunately on the 28th January 2016, PMI sought leave to appeal to the unanimous decisions of a UK government committee (consisting of several senior ministers), the UK High Court and three eminent Jurists sitting as the Court of Appeal to the UK Supreme Court (formally the House of Lords). A decision on PMI’s request is awaited.
If as is expected, PMI’s appeal is rejected, over time this decision will have a significant effect on the way project managers behave. Apart from trashing PMI’s reputation with the UK Government, a lack of ethics and professionalism on the part of a ‘professional’ is actionable, and being formally recognised as a profession should influence our engagement with the profession’s stakeholders. Watch this space………