Last edited 13 Nov 2018

Professional practice

The term 'professional practice' refers to the conduct and work of someone from a particular profession.

Professions are occupations that require a prolonged period of education and training. They are often overseen by professional bodies who may accredit educational establishments and qualified professionals. Qualification may be recognised by the designation 'member of...', 'certified', 'chartered member', 'fellow', and so on. For example, a professional member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists may use the letters MCIAT after their name (member of).

Professional bodies may set standards of ethics, performance, competence, insurance, training and so on that must be met to remain within the profession. These are typically set out in a code of conduct.

Some professional designations are protected by law. For example, the term ‘architect’ is protected by the Architects Act 1997 which established the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Only qualified individuals that are registered with the ARB can offer their services as architects. However, rather peculiarly, the public tend to recognise the designation RIBA, denoting an architect who is also a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. This is not a legal requirement.

Professions will have specific practices and standards that they value, but in construction there are some general principles common to most professionals:

Contracts may include terms requiring that the contracted party exercise 'reasonable skill and care', and in interpreting this, the courts may take into account the professional standard that might be expected. That is, a party advertising services as a professional architect would be expected to demonstrate the level of skill and care of a competent architect.

An architect offering services in a specialist field might be expected to demonstrate a higher level of skill and care, of a competent specialist. The more skilled a person, the more the care that can be expected of them. For more information see: Reasonable skill and care.

See also: Professional conduct.

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