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Conflict of Interest

In a University of the size and complexity of Oxford, conflicts of interest are bound to occur. The conflict of interest policy is not in place to prevent activities taking place, but to facilitate activities and to protect individuals and the University from any appearance of impropriety.

A conflict of interest arises where the commitments and obligations owed by a member of staff or student to the University or to other bodies (for example a funding body) are likely to be compromised, or may appear to be compromised, by:

  1. personal gain, or gain to immediate family (or a person with whom the staff or student has a close personal relationship) whether financial or otherwise; or
  2. the commitments and obligations that person owes to another person or body.

Everyone is responsible for recognising situations in which they have a conflict of interest, or might reasonably be seen by others to have a conflict, to declare that conflict to the appropriate person and to take such further steps as may be appropriate in line with the conflict of interest policy. If you are unsure about a situation, please contact lynn.ossher@ndcn.ox.ac.uk or hodoffice@ndcn.ox.ac.uk and we will be happy to discuss any potential conflicts of interest and make a plan.

Disclosure should be made in writing to the Head of Department, Prof Kevin Talbot, at the time the conflict first arises or it is recognised that a conflict might be perceived. Note that the duty to declare a possible conflict applies to the perception of the situation as well as the actual existence of a conflict. In addition, a conflict of interest management plan may have to be agreed with the head of department.

Outside Appointments and Consulting

University academic and academic-related employees are permitted to hold outside appointments and to undertake other outside activities, including consultancies, which require a commitment of time (up to 30 days) that otherwise might reasonably be expected to be devoted to University duties, subject to the written approval of the Head of Department, Prof Kevin Talbot. Where relevant, a direct line manager or Head of Division may also need to give approval.

Consultancies and outside appointments may be arranged through Oxford University Innovation (OUI), or may be arranged independently. OUI Consulting Services will negotiate terms with potential clients and put in place contracts to protect individual and University interests. Consulting Services also provides advice and guidance on seeking University approvals, provides cover under the University's professional indemnity and liability insurance policies, handles the invoicing of clients, the chasing of debt, and the disbursement of funds, which may be taken either personally or routed to a department cost centre. Members of the University choosing to use the services of Consulting Services at OUI must still follow the internal procedures for University approval of their outside appointments.

Staff may choose to undertake consultancies privately rather than through OUI. They will make it clear to the client that the University is not involved in the consultancy agreement in any way (ensuring that their clients are aware that they are acting in a private capacity). A staff member undertaking private/independent consulting is not covered by the University's professional indemnity and public liability insurance, and will not be defended by the University in the event of a claim against the staff member related to that consulting activity.

All University academic and academic-related employees and emeriti, who are actively engaged in research, or who hold University appointments (and Visitors who have signed a Visitor's Agreement and are expected to be visiting the University for more than three months), must complete a separate OA1 form each time they wish to gain approval for any potential income-earning or financial interest which may involve a conflict of interest with an individual's University role, as well as for holding an outside appointment. The OA1 declaration should be submitted annually, even if an outside activity has been previously agreed, or the employee believes it to be common knowledge within the Department. Staff who have not engaged in outside activities should submit a null return using the OA2 form annually.

There are a number of conflict of interest examples provided by the University. For further support in NDCN please contact lynn.ossher@ndcn.ox.ac.uk or hodoffice@ndcn.ox.ac.uk. For more help or advice on developing translational projects, commercialisation, and patents and IP, you may wish to contact: