A conflict of interest arises when a party’s interests or loyalties are divided as a result of their obligations to more than one person or organization. A person with a conflict of interest cannot fairly represent both parties’ real or projected conflicting interests.

What Does It Mean to Have a Conflict of Interest?

A person or entity having two relationships contending for the individual’s loyalty is said to be in a conflict of interest. For example, the person may be devoted to both his or her employment and a family company. Each of these companies expects the individual to put the company’s best interests first

As a result, there is a disagreement. Personal and professional conflicts of interest might occur.

What is a Conflict of Interest?

In many different scenarios involving personal allegiance and loyalty to a private employer, government employer, or professional connection, a conflict of interest might arise. A public official whose personal interests conflict with their expected loyalty to the organisation, a person of authority in one company or organisation who conflicts with their interests in another company or organisation, or an attorney who tries to represent both parties in a divorce are all examples of conflicts of interest.

Conflicts of Interest: What They Are and What They Aren’t

There are a variety of activities that might lead to a conflict of interest, including:



excessive remuneration

In situations of employment, promotion, transfer, or termination, nepotism is the practise of offering favours to family and close friends. It was customary practise in ancient times, and the phrase originates from the word “nephew.” Because the relative may not be the best person for the position, nepotism is regarded a conflict of interest.

Self-dealing is when a corporate fiduciary acts for his or her own personal gain rather than the company’s profit. Using business cash as a personal loan is one example, as is buying company shares based on insider information, which is also an insider trading offence. 3 Setting salary or perks for officials, directors, or trustees in a non-profit organisation can lead to a conflict of interest. Paying an employee in a position of significant power exorbitant salary, for example, serves a private purpose. 4

Workplace conflicts of interest may take many different shapes.

There are business-related issues, such as an employee running a side business that competes with the employer, and personal issues, such as a manager having a romantic involvement with an employee. The latter creates a problem since the manager has the authority to grant the employee increases or promotions, and communications between the two persons concerning the firm may also violate confidentiality agreements.

Conflicts of interest are more likely to occur in organizations that rely on a supply chain. An employee’s acquaintance with a supplier, for example, may allow them to bypass the bidding procedure and secure contracts with little or no competition.

Many organizations have laws and processes in place that prohibit conflicts of interest, such as hiring family in specific circumstances.

After-Employer Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest can arise even after someone has left a post, despite the fact that many institutions prohibit this type of conflict. Executives and business owners are frequently obliged to sign non-compete agreements to avoid scenarios such as someone obtaining their former company’s client list and immediately competing with them.

Former federal workers in the executive branch are prohibited from testifying on behalf of other individuals or organizations before the federal government. This includes limits on “switching sides” after leaving the government and working for a corporation where the official previously worked.

The Massachusetts conflict of interest statute, like those of other government and commercial institutions, prohibits a person from working for anyone other than the government entity on an issue that they worked for the entity on. Business partners and intimate family members may be subject to these post-employment limitations.

Is it Illegal to Have a Conflict of Interest?

Conflict of interest actions, like other sorts of unlawful or immoral behaviour, pose the possibility of negative repercussions. Conflicts of interest in the public sector are illegal under federal and state law, and they can lead to punishment in certain instances.

Government personnel are prohibited from acting personally and materially in official activities in which they have a financial interest under the federal government’s criminal conflict of interest legislation. This limitation also applies to the spouse, minor child, general partner, and a few others. Conflicts of interest can develop from a variety of sources, including:

Investments and assets

  • Liabilities
  • Funds for private investment
  • Ownership of a business or a farm
  • Working for a company
  • Working for a legal company or as a consultant
  • Work with higher education institutions, as well as associated research, speaking, and writing activities