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Relationship between CBs and Consultants. Result of question to EA Certification Committee

This bulletin provides information regarding a question raised at the EA Certification Committee (EACC) with regard to the practice of Certification Bodies providing lists of consultants to their prospective clients.

The question was considered by the EACC at the 25th meeting (March 2013).

It should be noted that answers presented by the EACC represent the consensus view of the EA Certification Committee; they are intended for informational purposes and should not be used as official guidance to the requirements of the Conformity Assessment Standards concerned.

The EACC consists of representatives from each EA MLA signatory Accreditation Body, together with representatives of stakeholder groups, including Certification Body organisations,

UKAS assessors are aware of this answer and, taking into account the above statement regarding use and applicability, will consider it along with other factors on a case by case basis during assessments.

Question Raised:

“One of our certification bodies is operating a ‘Recognised Consultant Scheme’ which is a list of consultants that are recognised by this CB and these consultants are allowed to use a logo that gives the CB’s name and stating that they are ‘recognised consultants’. We think that this is not in conformity with clause 5.2.9 of ISO 17021 as there is a definite link between the consultants and the CB and also we see the use of the CB’s name as marketing.

For the consultants to be included on the CB’s list the ‘ISO consultants who have proven themselves in audit situations’

The website of the CB states that ‘Certification will not be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if a recognised consultant is used’.

Does the CC agree that this is not allowed under ISO 17021?”

EACC Consensus Answer:

“As the recognized consultants use the certification body’s logo, the certification body’s activities may be linked with the services of an organisation that provides management system consultancy, which contravenes clause 5.2.9 of ISO/IEC 17021. Although the certification body may state that certification will not be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if a recognized consultant is used, use of the word ‘recognised’ could indicate that the certification body endorses the competence of the consultant. Despite the certification body’s disclaimer, clients could believe that there are distinct benefits in using a recognized consultant as they have the certification body’s endorsement (recognition).

There are, however, situations where certification bodies may provide potential clients with a list of possible consultants.   Providing the certification body does not endorse the competence of the consultant, informs the client that it is their responsibility to choose the most suitable consultant from the list and makes it clear that certification would not be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if one of these consultants was used, then is acceptable. The critical difference is the use of the certification body’s logo and of the term ‘recognised’ which indicates the certification body’s endorsement of the consultant’s competence. “

If you have any queries regarding this bulletin, please contact the UKAS Technical Manager – Kevin Belson at [email protected]