Ensuring a duty of care for planners

o-wedding-planner-facebookWith all industry-led standards, there is a step-by-step process.

Whether reference is being made to human resources, marketing, public relations or any other soft skill, including event planning—a strong foundation forms the basis of the standard.

The term ‘duty of care’ is also known as ‘duty of service’.  These two terms are interchangeable, the most important part being the understanding as to what a duty of care or service is.

Duty of care is: The responsibility of a person or organization to avoid acts or omissions (which can be reasonably foreseen) which are likely to cause harm to others.

Duty of Service is: the obligation to take responsible care which can be reasonably foreseen.

A planner should be clear about exactly what the nature of the care or support that is being provided is—and on which the client/company is relying.

Failure to exercise care may lead to unfortunate consequences. In other words, it could have been avoided with due care taken.

Standard of care refers to: that which is expected of any reasonable planner who performs the same duties. This is not about being the perfect planner—there is unlikely to be such person.

A standard of care is about being sufficiently cognisant of the set standards by consensus and undertaking the planning tasks as anticipated and hence expected.

When making their decisions regarding whether or not a planner has failed to provide a reasonable standard of care, mediators look at many factors such as:

  • Training that the planner has received
  • Laws and regulations as laid down by the industry for the industry (if any)
  • Practicalities relating to the situation
  • Needs of others in the situation
  • Current standards in the industry
  • Community values and attitudes.

Breach of duty of service exists when it is proven that the planner who is negligent has not provided the appropriate standard.  That is, the planner (or collective entity) has done something that they shouldn’t have done or failed to do something which they should have done.

Examples in the Breach of Duty of Care:

What could be the consequences of the following?

  1. Not confirming the dates of the booking
  2. Not ensuring the required venue set-up is undertaken
  3. Not advising the delegation of programme & presenter changes
  4. Altering the meeting venue without notification to the delegation
  5. Not catering sufficiently for the anticipated amount of attendees
  6. Insufficient internal signage leading to confusion and late arrival

It could be debated that the six examples are basics, which no self-respecting planner would allow to occur. It may be prudent to know that duty of care is abused on a regular basis.

Adhering to the basics will hold all event planners in good stead going forward, as required by a strong duty of care foundation.

* Helen Brewer from The MICE Academy, is an independent contributor and articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Planner.