Commentary

A1.807 Reasonable competence

Administration and compliance

A1.807 Reasonable competence

A1.807 Reasonable competence

What is reasonable competence will depend on all the circumstances and may take into account the factors discussed below.

Professional standards and practice

The issue is to be determined by reference to members of the relevant profession. It is an objective test to be measured by reference to the notional 'reasonably competent' member of the profession. Professional standards and guidelines will provide strong evidence as to what constitutes accepted practice at the relevant time. However, departure from professional guidelines will not automatically mean that a tax adviser is in breach of his duty of care.

Level of expertise

The question sometimes arises as to whether a higher standard of care applies in cases where the professional holds himself out as being a specialist in a particular field.

Whilst the standard to be applied is of the reasonably competent professional, recent cases have indicated that this standard is of the reasonably competent professional practising in the particular field in which that professional practices, who has held himself out as having expertise. When considering the standard of reasonable skill and care, the court will have regard to the standard to be applied to others in the profession professing to have the same specialist skills.

As stated in the medical negligence case of Sidaway v Board of Governors of the Bethlem Royal Hospital1:

'The (Bolam test) clearly requires a different degree of skill from a specialist in his own field than a general practitioner.'

This issue was specifically considered in the context of tax advisers in

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