Project management under professional dispute

Patrick Weaver
January 26, 2016

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 [2016] 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 Privy Council to recommend 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 with more than 20,000 members. By comparison, PMI has around 7,000. The Privy Council 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 by the Privy Council to reach its decision.

The Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld the trial Judge’s key finding that:

I am satisfied that the 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.

Watch this space!

Author avatar
Patrick Weaver
Patrick Weaver is the managing director of Mosaic Project Services and the business manager of Stakeholder Management Pty Ltd. He has been a member of both PMI and AIPM since 1986 and is a member of the Asia Pacific Forum of the Chartered Institute of Building. In addition to his work on ISO 21500, he has contributed to a range of standards developments with PMI, CIOB and AIPM.
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