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Consumer information

What is a Professional Standards Scheme?

A Professional Standards Scheme is a legal instrument that obliges associations to monitor, enforce and improve the professional standards of their members. This is designed to help protect the people, or consumers, who use their members’ services.

These associations are organisations that have been approved by the Professional Standards Councils as being able to represent professionals in a particular occupation, such as IT, accounting or law.

Professional Standards Schemes do this by capping the civil liability or the amount of damages that can be paid by professionals who belong to a participating association’s scheme.

These caps are designed to be high enough to cover the vast majority of claims, and will only apply to a professional if they can prove they have enough insurance and/or business assets to cover the potential damages awarded by a court. This is how Professional Standards Schemes provide confidence in compensation if your claim succeeds.

Learn more about how limited liability works.

How do associations get a Professional Standards Scheme?

They must:

  1. Demonstrate to us that the people they represent form a genuine professional community that can protect consumers and meet high levels of professionalism by completing our rigorous application process.
  2. Draft a Professional Standards Scheme in line with professional standards legislation and submit it to the Professional Standards Councils for approval.
  3. Participate in ongoing compliance and professional standards improvements programs. This includes submitting detailed annual reports that show how they’ve regulated their members, taken action against those who don’t meet their standards, and increased consumer protection in their industry.

If associations don’t meet their obligations under professional standards legislation, the Councils can issue warnings, seek fines and other remedies through the courts, or consider revoking their Professional Standards Scheme.