On February 18th, 2009, Texas State Representative Charlie Geren of Fort Worth filed HB 1405 which would have licensed all landmen under the Texas Real Estate Commission. This bill was filed in response to a number of allegations of unethical behavior by landmen, primarily during negotiations. That bill never came to pass.
The Enron handbook on Ethics was 69 pages long. The Ethical Standard promulgated by the American Association of Professional Landman (AAPL) is a single page. The AAPL Standards of Professional Conduct is set forth below.
In the comparison of Enron Ethical Standards to those of the AAPL, one could infer that less is more.
The only national body which has claimed any responsibility to ethical standards of landmen is the AAPL. There is no requirement for a landman in Texas to be a member of the AAPL. Since land professionals currently are not required to be licensed, therefore, the worst punishment the AAPL can impose to its members is expulsion from membership in the association. Ergo, any expulsion or censure from the AAPL does not prevent the individual brought up on potential ethics violations from practicing his or her profession in the State of Texas.
By not having membership status in the AAPL in no way implies that the individual chooses to not have a moral or ethical binding to the tenants of the AAPL standards of practice.
STANDARDS OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
1. In justice to those who place their interests in his care, a land professional shall be informed regarding laws, proposed legislation, governmental regulations, public policies and current market conditions in his area of represented expertise, in order to be in a position to advise his employer or client properly (D, E).*
2. It is the duty of the land professional to protect the members of the public with whom he deals against fraud, misrepresentation and unethical practices. He shall eliminate any practices which could be damaging to the public or bring discredit to the petroleum mining or environmental industries.
3. In accepting employment, the land professional pledges himself to protect and promote the interests of his employer or client. This obligation of absolute fidelity to the employer’s or client’s interest is primary but it does not relieve the land professional of his obligation to treat fairly all parties to any transaction, or act in an ethical manner (A, B).
4. The land professional shall not accept compensation from more than one principal for providing the same service, nor accept compensation from one party to a transaction, without the full knowledge of all principals or parties to the transaction (B, C).
5. The land professional shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, creed, sex or country of national origin. The land professional shall not be a party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, creed, sex or country of national origin.
6. A land professional shall provide a level of competent service in keeping with the standards of practice in those fields in which a land professional customarily engages. The land professional shall not represent himself to be skilled in nor shall he engage in professional areas in which he is not qualified such as the practice of law, geology, engineering or other disciplines (D).
7. The land professional shall not undertake to provide professional services concerning a property or a transaction where he has a present or contemplated interest, unless such interest is specifically disclosed to all affected parties (C).
8. The land professional shall not acquire for himself or others an interest in property which he is called upon to purchase for his principal, employer or client. He shall disclose his interest in the area which might be in conflict with his principal, employer or client. In leasing any property or negotiating for the sale of any block of leases, including lands owned by himself or in which he has any interest, a land professional shall reveal the facts of his ownership or interest to the potential buyer (C).
9. If a land professional is charged with unethical practice or is asked to present evidence in any disciplinary proceeding or investigation, or has direct knowledge of apparent unethical misconduct of another member, he shall place all pertinent facts before the proper authority of the American Association of Professional Landmen (E).
10. The land professional shall not accept any commission, rebate, interest, overriding royalty or other profit on transactions made for an employer or client without the employer’s or client’s knowledge and consent (B).
11. The land professional shall assure that monies coming into his possession in trust for other persons, such as escrows, advances for expenses, fee advances and other like items, are properly accounted for and administered in a manner approved by the employer or client (B).
12. The land professional shall avoid business activity which may conflict with the interest of his employer or client or result in the unauthorized disclosure or misuse of confidential information.
13. The land professional shall at all times present an accurate representation in his advertising and disclosures to the public (A).
14. The land professional shall not aid or abet the unauthorized use of the title “Certified Professional Landman,” “Registered Professional Landman,” “P.Land” and “CPL/ESA.”
15. The land professional shall not participate in conduct which causes him to be convicted, adjudged or otherwise recorded as guilty by any court of competent jurisdiction of any felony, any offense involving fraud as an essential element or any other serious crime.
(*)References are to the foregoing summary of the standards of professional conduct and guiding principals and ideals mandated by the Code of Ethics and AAPL Bylaws.