Manual for Azerbaijan companies Rena Safaralieva


particular vicinity. You understand that you  might be wrong  and then  you both might lose



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land in this particular vicinity. You understand that you  might be wrong  and then  you both might lose 

money, however, you feel that the reward is worth the gamble.  

 

a)

 



Can you leak  this  information out?                         

b)

 



Is it legal and/or ethical?   

c)

 



Is it ethical? 

 

  



Rena Safaralieva  

 

CHAPTER X.   

PROFESSIONAL ETHICS, FREE PROFESSIONS AND CORPORATE CULTURE  

 

Notion of professional ethics and free professions 

 

Professional ethics can be viewed as a system of professional norms, shared by representatives of a 

certain profession, as opposed to a universal or standard set of business ethics. Behavioral standards may 

vary appreciably from profession to profession. An auditor, for instance, makes note of errors and 

deficiencies in accounting books, and assists his or her customer in correcting them. A tax inspector

however, is not obligated to aid a company that is being audited.  

 

A representative of a free profession is a self-employed professional, one who sells either intellectual 



services or artistic talents, and maintains an irregular income.

99

 Be that as it may, free professions are 



typically associated with a high-income and social prestige. A representative of a free profession may 

have at his disposal a small team of workers executing support services.  

 

The boundaries between professional businesses and representatives of free professions are diffused. For 



example, a self-employed doctor, executing his duties with the help of a nurse and secretary, is the 

archetypal representative of a free profession. Several doctors maintaining an establishment of their own, 

however, who are assisted by support personnel, qualify as a professional business. Another example is a 

full-time correspondent opposed to a freelance journalist.  

 

Freelancers are bound by the same ethical obligations as their colleagues working in professional 



business. For this reason, they often unite to form professional associations, etc. If this were not so, 

society would not possess an efficient mechanism guaranteeing that representatives of free professions 

follow ethical norms and rules. Although some may argue that market instruments are capable of 

providing sufficient levers for enforcing ethical principles on freelancers,  this is unfortunately not the 

case. The complexity of services rendered by representatives of free professions disqualifies the 

possibility.  

 

In most cases, customers have the bare minimum of knowledge required to make the “right choice”, in 



terms of services and commodities that are available on the market (i.e. laundry services, food stuffs). In 

terms of high-tech merchandise, such as household appliances, a customer can rely on a company’s 

advertisements or reputation. Nonetheless, when faced with an abundance of professional services 

provided by free professionals - doctors, lawyers or architects - a customer will face difficulty in not 

having the appropriate amount of knowledge to make an educated choice. This factor imposes a larger 

number of strict moral obligations on representatives of free professions, as compared to their colleagues 

employed by professional firms. If a doctor prescribes an expensive German medication, a patient may 

not be aware that cheaper products of similar quality (i.e., Russian or Turkish) may also be available on 

the market. Consequently, it is state licensing of professionals is quite logical, given that the ultimate goal 

of licensing is to protect customers against poor, unprofessional service.  

 

                                                 



99

 Some authors believe that people who render non-intellectual services (plumbers or carpenters) also qualify as 

representatives of free professions. See R.T. de George, “Business Ethics”, Volume One, Progress Group  Publishers, 

Moscow- St.-Petersburg, 2001, pp. 819-820. We do not share this opinion, as we do not recognize differences between the 

ethical obligations of a self-employed repairman and a repairman working for an employer.  



Unfortunately today in Azerbaijan, licensing is more a form of unofficial tax than a guarantee of 

professionalism. The reduction made in 2002 of the types of activities requiring licensing from 240 to 30 

inspires only cautious optimism.  

 

Professional obligations 

 

The average citizen encounters two potential problems when receiving professional assistance, of 

economic and geographic nature, respectively. The former is the more poignant of the two, and raises a 

number of complicated questions.

100

 Do professional services need to be available on an equal 



opportunity basis? In other words, can a society manage to maintain an equal level of education 

throughout the nation, from the capital to the provinces, regardless of price? What services should be 

provided at no cost, and similarly, on a paid basis?  

 

To some extent, it is clear that education, healthcare, and legal protection services should be available free 



of charge. Unfortunately, at present, there is virtually no free education or healthcare in Azerbaijan. If a 

significant portion of the educational sphere is ostensibly free of charge, medical institutions legally 

charge a fee for their services, because according to legislation most medical facilities are self-financed. 

Over the last five years, state-appointed lawyers failed to receive even the slightest reimbursement for 

their services, although the payment is stipulated by law.

101


  

 

In this way, we stand face to face with a serious question: How should professionals be paid for their 



services, so that these services be made readily available to those in need? Each country resolves this 

issue independently, through its own means, through legislation and financial support. However, there is 

one essential point. Ethical principles should impose the obligation of providing services and not being 

paid, through some sort of means, on professionals. Providing available services is an obligation that must 

be fulfilled by a profession or society, as a whole. It is not a burden that needs to be shifted onto 

individual professionals. 

 

A famous Russian doctor and writer, V.V.Veresayev, wrote in the 1910s that it is quite simple to 



denounce doctors, who do not wish to treat the poor free of charge. It is much more difficult, however, to 

make the whole of society provide free medical service to the poor.

102

 

 



Due to the high cost of professional services, in many professions there are certain economic norms 

limiting competition among professionals, and maintaining an ethical balance between competitors. For 

example, competitive bidding is prohibited in many professions. Artwork can be sold at an auction, but it 

is impossible to imagine universities accepting students on the basis of competitive bidding, instead of 

judging applicants according to their scores. A number of professionals charge percentage fees or have 

the rich subsidize the poor.  Such practice is applied, universally, within corporate social-responsibility 

programs. Many lawyers work several hours per week pro bona. In Azerbaijan, such an approach is 

utilized by human rights defenders. It would be beneficial for other professionals to follow in their stead. 

For example, a photographer’s studio could make photos for senior citizens free of charge, shops could 

sell basic foodstuffs at a discount several times a week, and food manufacturing companies could deliver 

a certain quantity of their products to hospitals at no cost, etc.  

 

Every business tries to expand its publicity through the medium of advertising. Quite often, ethical 

principles are breached in the pursuit of broader publicity.  

 

Another problem pertaining to publicity is solicitation or direct personal contact with a perspective client. 



Soliciting engineering services does not give way to great concern, but can one imagine a lawyer hearing 

of the death of an individual in a plane crash, and offering, free of charge, his services to the family of the 

deceased in making a claim against the airline? 

 

                                                 

100

 M. D. Bayles, Chapter 3, Professional Ethics, Florida State University,



 

Wadsworth Publishing Company.

 

 

101



 Article 20 of the Law of the Azerbaijan Republic, “On Barristers and Barrister Practice”, provides a state-guarantee on the 

payment of fees to barristers working free of charge at a rate of 1500 AZM per hour (under $0.3). 

102

 V. V. Veresayev, Doctor’s Memoirs, Xudojestvennaya Literature Publishing House, Moscow, 1986, p. 273.   





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