PALI members recognize and practice the principles of ethical conduct required of professional investigators. At all times, each investigator represents the highest standard of honesty, fairness and courtesy with all clients.

In the solicitation of business, members conduct themselves in accordance with principles of honesty, courtesy and fair-dealing with respect to other investigators. Ethical investigators do not damage the professional reputation of other investigators. PALI members do not represent themselves in a misleading or deceptive manner.

PALI Members honor the rights and privileges accorded to all United States citizens. Members conduct themselves in a sober and responsible manner as good citizens of their communities and of the United States.

PALI Members compose reports based on fact and truth. Members avoid any expression of personal feelings or prejudices in reporting the facts found during an investigation. Any conclusions or investigative opinions are clearly described as such in the body of the report.

PALI Members engage in continuous professional development to ensure that they maintain the competencies required to provide their clients with high quality services. Members make every effort to keep current with changes in the law as it affects the practice of professional investigations, civil rights, and professional ethics.

Members support PALI in promoting high standards for the profession of private investigations.

Rules of Professional Conduct


In the text below, every reference to a “license holder,” “investigator,” or “member” also includes all those operating under the authority of the PALI member’s license. A license-holder is responsible for the conduct of any person who operates under the authority of his license and assures that the person operating under the license follows the direction of the license-holder and the client.

Every reference to “reasonable” or “reasonably” refers to the level of fairness, moderation, and suitability under the circumstances as practiced by a majority of the investigators’ peers.

Every reference to “he” includes both the masculine and the feminine.

Part I – License Holder Client Relationship

Rule 1.1 – Competence

An investigator will provide to a client only those services that the license holder is reasonably competent to provide.

Rule 1.2 – Scope of Services

An investigator shall consult with each client to determine the objectives of the investigative services and the means by which the goals of the investigation are to be achieved. An investigator will clearly enumerate the tasks he will undertake on behalf of the client and the basis for the fees required from each client.

The license holder is responsible for limiting the objectives of the service to be provided to conform with the law and professional ethics. The member will not counsel a client to engage in or assist a client in conduct that is criminal or fraudulent.

Rule 1.3 – Diligence

The investigator will act with reasonable diligence and promptness in completing assignments. If a promised deadline will not be met, the investigator will contact the client and inform him of the delay prior to the deadline.

Rule 1.4 – Communication

The investigator will keep the client reasonably informed about the status of a matter. The investigator should promptly respond to reasonable requests for information. The investigator will explain matters in such a way as to allow the client to make the necessary decisions about the services provided.

Rule 1.5 – Fees

The investigator will set reasonable fees for his services. He will consider the following factors in setting his fees:

• time and labor required
• novelty, difficulty and skill needed
• time requirements set by the client
• effect on the investigator’s ability to take other assignments
• experience, reputation and ability of the investigator
• whether the license-holder or a subordinate will handle the project

The fee structure, including the services to be provided, expenses to be billed, and the terms of payment should be clearly communicated.

Rule 1.6 – Confidentiality

The investigator will maintain strict confidence in all investigative matters and respect the privacy of both the client and the information obtained.

A member will not reveal information acquired during an assignment that is not in the public domain unless released by the client or as required by law, except under the following circumstances:

• to prevent a client from committing a crime, including disclosure of intent to commit a crime;
• to respond to allegations that an assignment was mishandled.

A member is responsible to inform all those who operate under the authority of his license that they are forbidden to reveal any information concerning an assignment.

An investigator, prior to providing a potential client any personally identifying or location information of an individual subject, will conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure that the potential client has a legitimate business or legal interest in obtaining the subject’s information. When such due diligence is not possible or appropriate, or if the potential client appears to not have a legal or business interest, the potential client shall be informed that his contact information will be provided to the subject that he is seeking and the personal identifying information of the subject he is seeking will only be provided to the potential client if the party sought consents to the disclosure.

Rule 1.7 – Conflict of Interest

The investigator will not enter into any relationship in which there is a conflict of interest. That is, the investigator will not accept an assignment with an objective to be directly adverse to another client, unless the investigator reasonably believes the assignment will not adversely affect the interest of the other client and that client consents after consultation.

The investigator who has previously performed services for a client will not thereafter accept a case for another client who is in the same or a substantially related matter in which the former client’s interests are adversely affected, unless the former client first is consulted and consents.

The investigator will not use information to the disadvantage of the former client, except when the information has become generally known.

An investigator should decline any case in which he is incapable of being impartial with respect to either the client or the subject.

Rule 1.8 – Successive Government and Private Employment

Unless expressly permitted by law, an investigator will decline an assignment that relates to a matter in which the license holder was involved while working as a public officer, unless the appropriate government agency consents after consultation.

A license holder will not use information he should know is confidential government information that was acquired when the investigator worked for a government agency.

Rule 1.9 – Terminating Assignment

The investigator shall not accept an assignment, or if already accepted, the investigator will withdraw from the assignment if:

• the assignment violates the rules of professional conduct
• the investigator’s physical or mental condition impairs his ability to complete the assignment
• the client discharges the investigator.

Part II – Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession

Rule 2.1 – Candor Towards Tribunals and Fact Finders

A license-holder will not knowingly:

• make a false statement of material fact to a Court or fact finder
• fail to report a false statement of material fact to the appropriate officer of the Court
• fail to disclose a material fact to a Court or finder of fact when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client.

Rule 2.2 – Candor Towards Third Parties

An investigator will not knowingly make a false statement of material fact to a third party, except while engaged in an under-cover role determined to be proper and lawful conduct necessary to complete the service.

Rule 2.3 – Legitimacy of Services

An investigator will not provide services when he knows or recklessly disregards available knowledge that:

• the information or service provided will be used to commit or facilitate a crime or fraud;
• the information or service provided has no legitimate value to the client other than to harass, intimidate, or expose a third party to ridicule or scorn;
• the information or service provided will put a third party in physical danger.

Rule 2.4 – Misconduct

It is professional misconduct for a PALI member to:

• violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or to knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or to do so through the acts of another;
• commit a criminal act as defined in either Title 18 or Title 22, Pennsylvania Statutes, regulating the conduct of license-holders, or any other criminal act which reflects adversely on a license holder’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a license-holder;
• engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
• engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice;
• state or imply the ability to influence a third party improperly or corruptly;
• engage in conduct that is designed or has as its intended goal the improper or corrupt influence of a decision made by a client, a person operating on behalf of a client, or a third party;
• knowingly attempt to obtain or to ask a government employee to obtain information that is restricted to the department or agency that maintains the information and is not intended to be available to parties outside the agency or department;
• employ or continue to employ anyone to operate under the authority of one’s license or other person who violates or who has been known to violate any rule of professional conduct.

Rule 2.5 – Reporting Misconduct

A license-holder, having knowledge that another license holder has violated the rules of professional conduct that raises a substantial question as to the license-holder’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a license-holder, will inform the appropriate professional authority.

A license-holder who knows of substantial violation of Title 22, Pennsylvania Statutes by an unlicensed person should bring such violation to the attention of the appropriate professional authority.

Part III – Enforcement of the Code of Professional Conduct

Rule 3.1 – Structure of the Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee (the Committee) will be comprised of the PALI President, Committee Chairman and such other permanent and temporary members as the President deems necessary. All members of the Committee will serve at the pleasure of the President. Each member of the Committee will have demonstrated working knowledge of ethics and professional responsibility related issues.

Rule 3.2 – Committee Operations

The Committee will meet on an as-needed basis to discuss, investigate, and/or adjudicate violations of the rules. All minutes of the Committee meetings will be kept confidential until a decision has been made that the matter will be set for a hearing by the full Board of Directors. If any permanent or temporary Committee member has a conflict of interest with the person making the allegations, the respondent or the allegation, that member shall not take part in any hearing or deliberations concerning those allegations.

The Committee may seek the counsel of a license-holder outside the Committee, or any other person, while accomplishing its tasks. All such persons contacted for counsel shall maintain the information received in strict confidence.

The alleging party or the responding party may request that, for good cause shown, a specific member of the Committee not participate in a hearing or deliberation. Legitimate requests will be honored.

All discussion and correspondence to the Committee shall be kept confidential until a decision has been made that the matter will be set for a hearing by the full Board of Directors.

Rule 3.3 – Procedure for Investigation

Upon receipt of a written allegation or on its own initiative the Committee may initiate a meeting to review the information it has received. The Committee may take any, all, or none of the following steps at its discretion.

If, upon initial or preliminary review, the Committee makes a determination that the charges are either without basis in fact or, if proven, would not constitute professional misconduct, the Committee shall dismiss the allegations and send written notice to the individual who reported the conduct and, if necessary, to the accused member.

If a determination of dismissal cannot be made, the Committee may conduct a hearing in which the parties may mediate their differences. If mediation is not appropriate, the respondent will be permitted to provide his response that will address the charges to the Committee within 15 days of receiving notice of the accusation.. Upon receipt of the respondent’s reply, the Committee may in its discretion initiate a fact-finding investigation. The Committee should give notice to both parties that the fact-finding phase has been initiated. The Committee should make every effort to use “quiet means” to effect the investigation in order to allow for the dignity of the parties and the Association. The Committee Chairman or the President may appoint intermediaries as necessary to accomplish the goals of the investigation.

Upon completion of the fact-finding phase, the Committee may, at its discretion, reconvene to deliberate on the allegations and the results of the fact-finding investigation, and either dismiss the matter or prepare a case for consideration by the full Board of Directors. The decision of the full Board of Directors will be communicated to the parties but otherwise be maintained in confidence.

Rule 3.4 – Remedies

Upon a finding of misconduct by the Board of Directors, any of the following or any combination of the following or any other sanction as deemed appropriate by the Board of Directors may be imposed on the offending member:

• counseling on ethical conduct
• a letter of reprimand
• suspension from PALI for a specified period
• removal from PALI
• referral of the findings of the Board of Directors to any appropriate law enforcement agency

Upon the expiration of any period of probation or suspension, the offending member may make application for reinstatement.

Part IV – Guidance on the Rules of Conduct

Section 4.1 – Guidance

License holders may ask the Ethics Committee for guidance when confronted with ethical dilemmas. The member may rely on the guidance provided by the Committee to satisfy any requirements under the rules of conduct provided:

• the license holder discloses in writing all facts and circumstances impacting the dilemma to the Committee;
• the guidance is sought in advance of the implementation of any decision or conduct that would create a violation of any of the rules of conduct;

Section 4.2 – Confidentiality

Members are entitled to rely on the confidentiality of communications with the Committee. Committee members will not discuss the matters revealed by a member who seeks guidance on matters dealing with rules of conduct unless:

• the license holder releases the Committee to discuss the matter;
• the Committee is directed by a judicial officer to reveal the nature and specifics of the contact;
• the license holder behaves in a fashion that appears to violate the rules of conduct after seeking guidance;
• there is a hearing before the Board of Directors in an accusation of a violation of the rules of conduct when the Committee had previously provided the license holder with guidance on a same or similar matter.