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Plan Ahead to Avoid Ethical Entanglements pt. 2

Featured in Landman, July/August 2018 

In today’s fast-paced, complex marketplace, landmen — like many professionals — face an assortment of ethical challenges and dilemmas in the course of everyday business. Members of the AAPL are committed to the highest standards of ethical practice. One of the best defenses against questionable behavior is to know the answers before you encounter the tough questions. In our effort to continually equip landmen with the tools for ethical decision-making, this month’s Ethics Corner summarizes an actual case that came before the AAPL Ethics Committee. (Names and dates have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals and companies.)

Summary of the Facts

• As a trusted employee of Tom Land Services Provider, Sid Landman performed landwork for Ready Cash Inc.

• As he conducted research and title work on behalf of Ready Cash Inc., Sid Landman gained considerable knowledge of the Alaska Unit.

• Sid Landman used that confidential information to try to persuade landowners in the Alaska Unit to sell their mineral rights to him — instead of leasing those rights to his client.

• When a landowner agreed to sell her rights, Sid Landman used his significant other’s name for the official paperwork.

• Sid Landman left a paper trail that included his own letters as well as county deed record filings.

Ethics Committee Findings
The AAPL Code of Ethics Section 2 clearly states: “A Land Professional shall not betray his partner’s, employer’s or client’s trust by directly turning confidential information into personal gain.” Furthermore, it goes on to say, “The Land Professional shall exercise the utmost good faith and loyalty to his employee (or client) and shall not act adversely or engage in any enterprise in conflict with the interest of his employer (or client).” Sid Landman betrayed Tom Land Services Provider and the client, Ready Cash Inc., by clearly engaging in activities that were in conflict with the interest of his employer and Ready Cash Inc.

Action Authorized
After due consideration of the facts, further investigation and an opportunity for hearing, Sid Landman was found guilty of violating Article XVI – Code of Ethics, Section 2 of the AAPL ByLaws. Sid Landman was expelled as an AAPL Member, which also included his designation as a CPL. Notice of the action was provided to the membership through publication in the Landman magazine.