Published

9 May 2014

Conflict-of-Interest Rules

Conflict of interest (CoI) refers to doubts about impartiality. The
purpose of rules concerning CoI is to guarantee objectivity and
impartiality in the handling of matters and to generate confidence,
among those concerned and the public, that this is done.

Mistra is a public foundation, subject to the Swedish Foundations Act (SFS 1994:1220). The Swedish Secrecy Act (SFS 1980:100, Annex) also specifies that Mistra is subject to the prescriptions of the Swedish Freedom of the Press Act concerning the right of public access to official documents, i.e. the principle of public access (SFS 1949:105, Chapter 2, Article 1). Mistra is not subject to the Swedish Administrative Procedure Act (SFS 1986:223), which contains provisions on CoI in public agencies. CoI in Mistra’s handling of matters is thus not subject to special legal rules like those applying, for example, to state research funders.

Mistra’s CoI rules

Premises

• On its own initiative, to guarantee that it handles matters objectively and impartially and to generate confidence that this is being done among those concerned and the public, Mistra applies the provisions on disqualification in the Administrative Procedure Act (SFS 1986:223, Sections 11–12).

• On its own initiative, Mistra applies the rules in the Swedish Research Council’s CoI Policy (VR ref. 11-2006-623) in cases where these rules provide guidance over and above the Administrative Procedure Act and the rules are applicable to Mistra’s work.

• Mistra’s Board can apply exemption from the above rules if special reasons exist. ‘Special reasons’ are, in particular, the need for exclusive expertise of great importance for the handling of a matter: a person subject to CoI may be permitted to take part in discussions but not in decisions. This participation must (in the same way as in the reporting of CoI) be entered in the minutes of the meeting(s) that take place in connection with handling of the matter.

Scope of the rule

• The CoI rules cover all those who handle a matter, including both those who take part in the final discussions on the matter (decision-making) and those who review the matter. Here, the crucial consideration is whether people have been involved in the matter in such a way that they may conceivably have influenced the outcome. Accordingly, the CoI rules concern Mistra’s Board, Executive Director, Asset Management Committee members, evaluators, review panels and Secretariat staff.

Reporting CoI

• Those who are aware of any circumstance that may be assumed to constitute CoI for themselves must disclose it. (For a Board member, this is also regulated in the rules of procedure for Mistra’s Board, point 3.7: ‘It is incumbent on a permanent member of the Board to report a conflict of interest as soon as it may be judged to exist.’)

• Circumstances that may possibly be assumed to constitute CoI should be discussed in a spirit of openness. All those involved in handling the matter (not only the person for whom it may possibly involve CoI) may raise the question of whether such a circumstance exists. Anyone who is aware of a circumstance that may be assumed to constitute CoI for a person involved in handling the matter must disclose it if the said person has not become aware of the circumstance. This spirit of openness safeguards objectivity and impartiality in the handling of matters and also other people’s confidence that matters are being handled in this manner.

Procedure in the event of Co

• A person subject to CoI may not handle the matter concerned, i.e. take any preparatory measure or join in deciding on the matter. The said person should leave the room when the matter is discussed.

• CoI must be noted in records of proceedings (minutes of Board, Committee or Secretariat meetings). Cases where a review has taken place but grounds for CoI have not been judged to exist must also be noted in the records.

Prevention of CoI

• If a member of Mistra’s Board or Asset Management Committee participates in an application for funding from Mistra, this person is regarded as subject to CoI in all handling of the entire matter (e.g. handling of a whole call for funding applications).

• Mistra’s Executive Director and Secretariat staff may never take part in applications for funding from Mistra.

• Evaluators and review panels may never take part in applications for funding from Mistra in the matter they are handling (e.g. an application call). If such a situation arises, this person must leave the evaluation or review group.

First adopted by Mistra’s Board on 26 June 2006. Revised on 9 June 2008. Adopted by Mistra’s Board on 27 March 2012.
Revised and adopted on 12 December 2013.

Mistra Webbredaktör