USPAP’s rules on confidentiality and law enforcement

An excerpt from the Appraisal Foundation’s January USPAP Q&A column …

Question: I was contacted by a sworn peace officer who simply requested the workfile of an assignment I had previously completed. The officer made this request without a subpoena or any form of court order. If the workfile contains confidential information, does USPAP allow me to comply with the officer’s request?

Response: The answer to the question depends on whether or not the officer’s request qualifies as “due process of law.”

The Confidentiality section of the ETHICS RULE states, in part:

An appraiser must not disclose confidential information or assignment results prepared for a client to anyone other than the client and persons specifically authorized by the client; state enforcement agencies and such third parties as may be authorized by due process of law… (Bold added for emphasis)

It is likely that this determination would need to be made by a court or other legal body, since USPAP does not define what “due process of law” constitutes. You may want to seek legal advice to determine an appropriate response.

It is also important to note that if the officer made the request on behalf of a state enforcement agency, the portion of the Confidentiality section of the ETHICS RULE quoted above allows the appraiser to communicate confidential information.

Don’t miss the rest of the January Q&A column!

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