What Is The 'Chatham House Rule?' | Breakthrough Funding

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Chatham House Rule

Ever been to a meeting and someone said you have to abide by the Chatham Rules? What does it mean? What are you supposed to do?


Well, the original Chatham House Rule reads as follows:

"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed".

So the world-famous Rule may be invoked at meetings to encourage openness and the sharing of information. Some companies use it to ensure corporate confidentiality while meeting clients, competitors or partners especially if they’re holding round table debates. It helps that those involved know they won’t be quoted or any remarks or comments attributed to an individual or their organisation. You could all sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement instead, but in some settings this just isn’t in the spirit of the meeting or it’s just too formal and inappropriate.

The Chatham House Rule originated at Chatham House (obviously) in 1927. Chatham House was occupied by three Prime Ministers including William Pitt and is home to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in St. James’s Square in London. It’s now a world famous think-tank, whatever that means.

It’s often asked whether it should be referred to as the Chatham House Rule or Chatham House Rules? The answer is - there is only one Rule.


Sue Nelson

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