Codes of Conduct can be risky things for business. If they’re poorly framed they can turn round and bite the hands that penned them. Too weak and wimpish and they lay you open to criticism or even ridicule from the competition. Too convoluted or proscriptive and they make observance a nightmare and hamper competitiveness.

Small wonder then that it’s taken the Timber Trade Federation over a year, plenty of expert legal advice and widespread consultation to come up with its new Code.

But, when the final document was unveiled on April 25, it looked like the hard work had paid off.

The Code, printed in a short, sharp booklet, is clear and concise. So too are the Codes of Practice it includes for members of the TTF’s softwood, hardwood and panel products divisions, and the associated Environmental Code.

And the document shouldn’t prove too burdensome; setting out ‘principles which members should apply with good sense, and integrity’ rather than precisely ‘stipulating actions which should or should not be taken’.

At the same time, the Code does have teeth. There are strict and straightforward complaint and arbitration procedures for the industry’s customers to use and the final sanction of expulsion from the TTF for serious or repeated breaches of the rules.

TTF director-general Paul Martin acknowledged that getting trade-wide consensus on the Code was not easy. But he stressed the initiative is vital for the Federation and the industry. For one thing, the government is keen on industry associations having Codes of Conduct and ministers should consequently pay the sector more attention.

Most importantly, it should act as a marketing tool, helping raise consumer confidence in and spending on timber and timber products. So the only people to be bitten by the whole exercise should be competitors making and using rival materials.