Standard of Care

Of particular importance is the 'standard of care' required of a professional.

As already noted, in reaching a decision in a negligence case, the courts will attempt to establish the standard of care required of the Technology Professional. This would be based on the professional having a duty to use the reasonable care and skill expected of a Technology Professional of normal competence. This reasonable care would in turn be measured against applicable professional standards for the profession at the time the services were performed. If negligence or lack of skill is proven, the professional would be liable to the client.

The same standard of care is also expected from new or less experienced professionals. There is no leeway given and if not sufficiently competent, a less experienced technology professional should decline the work or seek someone more capable to do the work or supervise the project. The more senior professional would then assume any liability.

While the courts do not expect perfection from professionals, it is essential that those who assume a duty of care on behalf of their clients and the public be aware of what is expected of their profession and the people in it.

Further, those that advertise themselves as 'experts' or 'specialists' in their field will be expected to operate at a higher level than generalists in their field. And a generalist who accepts an assignment without having the required skills will be deemed by the court to have the skills and be deemed to have the same standards as offered by a specialist. This of course raises ethical issues about deliberate misrepresentation regarding competence.

It has been argued successfully in the courts in the past that a professional complying with standard practice cannot be judged to have been negligent and that the court is in no position to find a particular standard practice negligent. However, the courts have also determined that if standard practice fails to adopt 'obvious and reasonable precautions which are readily apparent to the court', there is no excuse for a professional to claim that they were merely conforming to a negligent standard practice.

This naturally leads to the need for professional associations to periodically review and update standards and practices to ensure that members are following an appropriate level of professionalism and standard of care.

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