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 regulate professionals in a particular occupation, such as IT, accounting or law.

Professional standards schemes do this by requiring associations to implement systems for the continuous improvement of professional standards and consumer protections, in exchange for capping the civil liability of, or the amount of damages that can be paid by, professionals who belong to a participating association's scheme.

These two elements of professional standards schemes operate to put downward pressure on professional indemnity insurance costs, which is in the interests of both consumers and professionals.

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 continuously improve professional standards. 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 may take supervision action or consider revoking their professional standards scheme.