Professional code

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Professional guidelines serve as a reference and orientation for the (befitting) behavior of people who feel a certain level belonging or associated law (eg. As the profession of doctors , dentists , veterinarians , pharmacists , lawyers , tax consultants , accountants , civil engineers , Engineers , civil servants , academics , guilds or guilds etc.).

Professional ethics can also apply to a specific person or family based on birth (e.g. nobility , caste, etc.).

Historical development

Staff of Aesculapius

Rules of ethics that apply to a person due to the profession or birth are much older than legal norms. The rules of professional ethics developed because of the union of people with the same interests long before state power existed. Professional rules can be seen as reinforced social norms with which certain people are to be brought to a certain behavior (e.g. in the warrior caste - Hermotybians from Prosopitis , Otomí from the Aztecs , Chhetri in Nepal , Kshatriya) in India ). This behavior is demanded through sanctions , among other things .

A very old and well-known form of professional ethics are the obligations from the Hippocratic oath , which is also partially seen as the contractual assumption of obligations based on the profession ( doctors ). One of the best-known symbols of a profession is the Aesculapian staff as the symbol of the medical and pharmaceutical class.

Professional standards today complement state norms ( legal norms and social norms).


According to the nobility, the persons of status were “ persons of class, ie of high noble class. In the narrowest and most real meaning, only people of the higher nobility belong here, but also those who come close to them in dignity. In the broadest sense, although it is a misuse, one often assigns this name to every person above the bourgeoisie. "

Today, if the term is still used, a person of a certain profession is also understood as a person of status (e.g. from the status of accountants ...)

Extent of the binding effect

Code of ethics often binds the people subject to them not only during professional but also during non-professional activities and regulates the expected behavior. Code of ethics of a profession can also include employees in a company or authority (e.g. doctor's office , law firm, civil servant, etc.), even if they do not belong directly to the corresponding profession. The ethics of a profession do not automatically bind family members or service personnel if they do not belong to the stand.

Demarcation of professional rules

Professional rules are norms passed on orally or fixed in writing ( legal norm , social norm ) or lived or expected behavior, which together with other professional law form the professional code . A distinction is made between the various effects of the code of conduct:

  • the internal effect of ethical rules can determine how the members of the profession should behave with one another and with regard to the association / company / authority,
  • external effect, through which the behavior of class members towards other persons (non-class members, authorities, courts, etc.) is regulated,
  • The professional code of conduct serves as a guide for outside persons to the (mostly ambitious) goals and the competence of the members (e.g. civil servants, court experts, journalists, banks, etc.).

Code of ethics generally corresponds to more or less binding behavioral guidelines. This should also be achieved, for example, through association statutes. However, association statutes and other voluntary agreements regularly only bind the members, while professional ethics also include people who belong to the same "class" (e.g. all engineers , all experts in Germany), even if they are not members of a corresponding association.


In order to demand compliance with professional ethics and to promote voluntary compliance, sanctions are often provided. B.

  • Admonitions
  • Fines
  • Prohibition of professional practice

can include. To this end have been or are often honor courts , professional courts , tribunals , university courts or club courts and family courts / meals etc. set up their judgment, the persons concerned had been subject to the state because of their membership. It is (e) not always about courts that are (were) endowed with sovereign authority and that cannot take coercive measures. In order to confirm compliance with the ethical rules, the taking of an oath may also be required.


See also

Individual evidence

  1. According to Johann Christoph Adelungs , grammatical-critical dictionary of the high German dialect , 1793, Leipzig - key word: class-appropriate, a behavior according to his status, his circumstances and rank in civil society .
  2. Example: The importance of the activity of the sworn and court-certified experts for the administration of justice in Austria and the high level of trust that people place in the activity of the court-sworn expert, but also the self-image of the experts, require it through the obligation to comply of these ethical rules to publicly declare which code of conduct the generally sworn and court-certified experts feel obliged to do in their work according to the general conviction of the profession. The present professional rules also serve to maintain and promote the professional honor of the experts. The professional rules reflect the opinion of the overwhelming majority of all sworn and court-certified experts in Austria on the professional duties of an expert in the work of an expert. Retrieved from: Preamble (excerpt) on the Main Association of Sworn and Judicially Certified Experts in Austria , accessed on August 11, 2017.
  3. ^ See, for example, in the House Law of the Princely House of Liechtenstein of October 26, 1993 , LGBl 100/1993, accessed on August 11, 2017.
  4. See e.g. B. the professional code of conduct of the Federation of Publicly Appointed Surveying Engineers (BDVI), preamble, 2nd paragraph: With the following professional code of conduct, the publicly appointed surveying engineers express the mutual understanding of the profession that the principles laid down in the professional code of conduct go beyond the statutory provisions must be observed. The ethics rules apply to the entire area of ​​activity of the ÖbVI - for sovereign as well as non-sovereign areas.
  5. Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect, 1793, Leipzig - Keyword: The Standesperson
  6. See fundamentally: Jochen Taupitz : The class regulations of the liberal professions: historical development, functions, position in the legal system . 1st edition. de Gruyter , Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-11-012376-2 .
  7. An example as part of the code of ethics: I swear a pure oath to God, the Almighty and All-Knowing, that I will carefully examine the objects of an inspection, faithfully and completely state the perceptions and state the findings and my expert opinion to the best of my knowledge and belief the rules of science (art, trade) would specify; so help me God! - Expert opinion on the website of the main association of sworn and court-certified experts in Austria , accessed on August 11, 2017.