money, however, you feel that the reward is worth the gamble.
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
Be that as it may, free professions are
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
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
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
In most cases, customers have the bare minimum of knowledge required to make the “right choice”, 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.
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.
professionalism. The reduction made in 2002 of the types of activities requiring licensing from 240 to 30
inspires only cautious optimism.
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.
Do professional services need to be available on an equal
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
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.
In this way, we stand face to face with a serious question: How should professionals be paid for their
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
A famous Russian doctor and writer, V.V.Veresayev, wrote in the 1910s that it is quite simple to
make the whole of society provide free medical service to the poor.
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.
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?
M. D. Bayles, Chapter 3, Professional Ethics, Florida State University,
Wadsworth Publishing Company.
payment of fees to barristers working free of charge at a rate of 1500 AZM per hour (under $0.3).
V. V. Veresayev, Doctor’s Memoirs, Xudojestvennaya Literature Publishing House, Moscow, 1986, p. 273.