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When we think about the possibility of professional negligence claims, one of the key areas to consider is the applicable standard required and expected of the professional involved who has committed the breach

These professional standards are the measure of practices, behaviours and ethics applicable to members of a professional body.  Usually categories of professionals are governed by sets of standards set by their governing body that represents the interests of that group of professionals.

Codes of professional standards or practice are formulated for the purposes of promoting consistency throughout the profession and at the same time provide the framework for complaints and disciplinary matters.

The standards differ according to the group of professionals and include setting standards for;

  • honesty;
  • integrity;
  • confidentiality;
  • accountability;
  • transparency; and
  • care.

What standards should a professional meet?

In matters involving professional negligence the professional standard of care is important because it can determine the level of negligence when compared with the standard required and expected of the professional.

The requirements of the standard will be tailored to the profession to which they apply.

Whilst naturally groups of professionals are governed by their own relevant and particular codes, generally there are common and fundamental requirements of a professional in whatever sector they work whether it be part of their professional code or implied.

What does this really mean?

By way of example;

  • a professional must be competent to deliver the services being offered;
  • they will be required to keep their skills and knowledge current and keep accurate record;
  • ethical values and principles are also important for any professional to ensure that services are delivered at a fundamental professional standard.

Regardless of the nature of the services or business offered by the professional, it is assumed that they will be competent and will carry out the services offered with reasonable skill and care.  For example, for a solicitor the expectation is that the level of service provided is that of “a reasonably competent solicitor” and equally the same level of standard applies to accountants.

That required level of competency is high in that a professional must demonstrate that the skill and care provided is at the level of any other reasonably competent member of the profession as opposed to just the man on the street.

Overall, the standard care ordinarily underpinning what is expected of a professional is that of “reasonable skill and care” that expectation being the vein of most professional standard guidelines.


If you have a claim against a professional adviser – contact our friendly professional negligence team today and we can help. We have won many claims for our clients, including claims against solicitors, accountants, tax advisers and surveyors. Whatever the nature of your claim – we can help.

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