Code of Conduct

SAMRA aims to ensure and maintain quality, professional research practice in Southern Africa, amongst SAMRA members and the broader research industry. We provide guidance and information related to ethics and encourage professional ethos amongst SAMRA members, who all have to adhere to the SAMRA Code of Conduct.

The SAMRA Code of Conduct has three parts:

  1. ​SAMRA adopted the international ICC/ESOMAR Code of Conduct and Guidelines at the Annual General Meeting in 2008, and the 2016 revised ICC/ESOMAR Code of Conduct and Guidelines at the Annual General Meeting in 2017.
  2. SAMRA members also abide by additional requirements as contained in localised SAMRA Guidelines.
  3. In addition to the international Code of Conduct and Guidelines mentioned above, SAMRA also applies a localised Complaints Procedure.


Part A: International Code on Market and Social Research and Opinion Polling

The first Code of Marketing and Social Research Practice was published by ESOMAR in 1948. This was followed by a number of codes produced by national bodies and by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

In 1976 ICC and ESOMAR agreed that it would be preferable to have a single international code instead of two differing ones and a joint ICC/ESOMAR Code was published the following year 1977. This was revised and updated in 1986 and 1994, making the current version the fourth edition of the ICC/ESOMAR Code, under a slightly altered title.

Effective communication between the providers and consumers of goods and services of all kinds is essential to any modern society. There are many methods of gathering information, and the channels available are multiplying with the development and use of internet-based technologies and other interactive media. One of the most important methods of gathering information is by using market research, which in this Code is taken to include social and opinion research. Market research depends for its success on public confidence – that it is carried out honestly, objectively and without unwelcome intrusion or disadvantage to its participants. The publishing of this Code is intended to foster public confidence and to demonstrate practitioners’ recognition of their ethical and professional responsibilities in carrying out market research.

The self-regulatory framework responsible for implementing this Code has been successfully in place for many years. The use of codes of this nature and their implementation have been referred to and accepted as best practice worldwide, as a recognised means of providing an additional layer of consumer protection.

The Code is designed primarily as a framework for self-regulation. With this in mind, ICC/ESOMAR recommend the worldwide use of the Code, which intends to fulfil the following objectives:

  • To set out the ethical rules which market researchers shall follow;

  • To enhance the public’s confidence in market research by emphasising the rights and safeguards to which they are entitled under this Code;

  • To emphasise the need for a special responsibility when seeking the opinions of children and young people;

  • To safeguard freedom for market researchers to seek, receive and impart information (as embodied in article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights);

  • To minimise the need for governmental and/or intergovernmental legislation or regulation.


To download the full version of the code of conduct and the supporting notes and guidelines, please see:


Part B: SAMRA Specific Conduct Guidelines

A set of local guidelines have been developed, in addition the international Code of Conduct and Guidelines mentioned above, that also apply to SAMRA Members. These guidelines are published from time to time on the SAMRA website.


Part C: SAMRA Complaints Procedure

The SAMRA Complaints Procedure applies specifically to SAMRA members, whereas the complaints procedure in the international Code of Conduct applies to ESOMAR members.

In addition, the SAMRA Ethics Committee and the SAMRA Board applies the SAMRA Code of Conduct Guideline for Sanctions and Remedial Action when adjudicating a case, to guide the discussion.

When considering a complaint, defence, statements, and evidence, as well as recommendations by the Ethics Committee and by the Appeals Committee, while mindful of the fact that SAMRA is a voluntary membership association, and that the processes to enforce the SAMRA Code of Conduct, the Complaints Procedure and Guidelines are thus also voluntary processes determined and adhered to by SAMRA members, rather than judicial proceedings, the SAMRA Board acts in good faith to:

  1. Protect the public, by considering complaints in terms of the Code of Conduct requirements and doing so swiftly.

  2. Protect SAMRA members, by requiring all members, without fear or favour, to adhere to the Code of Conduct, and doing so consistently.

  3. Ensure a fair and just process by applying their minds when considering the complaint, defence, statements, all available evidence, the recommendations of the Ethics Committee as well as the recommendations of the Appeals Committee, while protecting the right of all parties to be heard.


What types of complaints do SAMRA handle?

Anyone, including members of the public, can lay a complaint against any organisation or individual who is a SAMRA member. Complaints should be lodged in terms of identified requirements in the Code of Conduct and/or the Guidelines, and must be directly linked to the SAMRA Member, irrespective of whether the member is an individual or organisation. SAMRA adheres to the principles of transparency, to encourage open discussion and to truly enhance quality and standards in the industry.

Types of complaints that fall outside SAMRA’s mandate:

  • Complaints against non-members: SAMRA may contact the transgressor  in an effort to improve standards across the industry, but we can only discipline SAMRA Members. Contact the office to find out if the organisation or individual you have interacted with, is a SAMRA Organisation, SAMRA Associate or SAMRA Independent Member.

  • Complaints that fall outside our legal mandate: Problems with contracts, payments, employment conditions, etc. fall outside our mandate, except where a member has been found guilty through relevant legal or commercial remedies. For example, SAMRA does not collect debt, prosecute thieves and fraudsters, make representation to the CCMA, etc. However, we can take disciplinary action against a member that has been found guilty of fraud, non-payment, etc.

For queries and information, contact

Complaints Form