Public risk is considered in terms of what form of regulation provides the best consumer protection for the given market. In determining this decision, a ‘trade-off’ needs to be considered regarding the potential risk to the public and the loss of professional autonomy and self-regulation.
State regulation is intended to (and does, in theory) improve consumer protection by addressing various risks facing the public. Governments have choices about the form of regulation they can deploy where the different types of regulatory tools are generally seen on a spectrum from self-regulation through to prescriptive rules-based State regulation. Historically, the choice of regulatory intervention has been a consideration of risk to the public and costs to both the government and the intended regulated community. Costs are not always seen in just economic terms but also in terms of individual agency and professional autonomy. Risk is considered in terms of what form of regulation provides best protection for the circumstances and, in this context, ‘public risk’ primarily means consumer protection.
This article considers the ‘trade-off’ between risk to the public and need for public protection and whether professional regulation (as a form of regulation of professional conduct) is an appropriate form of public protection and whether it is seen as a trade-off against professional autonomy and self-regulation.