On March 1 a new era began for the Society for Editors & Proofreaders (SfEP) as it attained chartered status and adopted its new name – The Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading or CIEP. What does attaining chartered status mean for the former society, its members, and potential clients?
According to the Privy Council‘s own website, a Royal Charter is “an instrument of incorporation, granted by the Queen (on the advice of the Privy Council), which confers independent legal personality on an organisation and defines its objectives, constitution and powers to govern its own affairs.” Er, okay, but in plain English, how does that change things for the former society?
Here’s another quote from the PC’s site: “Incorporation by Charter is a prestigious way of acquiring legal personality and reflects the high status of that body.” In other words, it is recognition of the high standards in editing and proofreading that the former society/now chartered institute has promoted over many years and maintains through its training schemes and support for its professional members.
The awarding of Royal Charters goes, rather astonishingly, all the way back to 1155(!) when the Weavers Company became the first body to be granted chartered status. The Privy Council website provides a list of all charters granted since then – a dizzying succession of vintners, saddlers, chandlers, ironmongers, public schools, universities and societies, including my own personal favourite, the “Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge” in 1832 (an early precursor to the web, natch).
In more recent times, the granting of chartered status has been limited to bodies “pre-eminent in their field and satisfying certain criteria”, perhaps the most important of which, surely, is: “that the petitioner shall exist not solely to advance the interests of its members but also, and primarily, to advance the public interest.” For any potential clients, this is the most important and, hopefully, reassuring aspect of our new status and one that will serve the CIEP well for many years to come.
A word of congratulations must go to all the members of the CIEP who worked so hard on attaining chartered status. By all accounts there were quite a few hoops to jump through, so well done to all!