Usually, technical standards are created by dedicated standards bodies such as ISO, DIN or ANSI. But I heard that there is supposed to be another construct which can be produced by professional organizations which are not strandards bodies, and that there is legislation in the EU that this construct is treated almost like a standard. I believe that W3C recommendations or RDA recommendations are an example for that.

Is it correct that such a construct exists? If yes, what is its proper name in European legislation? Also, what are the main similarities and differences between that construct and true standards from a legal point of view?

  • 1
    If effectively everyone follows them, then by definition, they're still standards. Possibly de facto standards, but standards nonetheless. Does the EU actually distinguish between, say, ANSI and the W3C in this regard?
    – cHao
    Apr 10 '18 at 15:29
  • @cHao I heard from a colleague that it does, that "official" standards have specific legal standing which other random documents (such as company-internal standards) don't have, and that things like W3C recommendations do have a legal standing close to that of official standards. But the colleague is not a lawyer and did not know more details about it, that's why I wanted to check here if correct, and if yes, what it is so special about standards. I am really talking about legal differences only, not about practical use.
    – Rumi P.
    Apr 10 '18 at 17:38
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    I think that you may be referring to a "regulation" or "directive" but I am not comfortable that this is really what you are looking for.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 11 '18 at 5:31

Standards can be and are created by anybody: businesses create internal standards, peak professional bodies create standards for their professions, rules of sports created by sports bodies are standards and there are some organisations whose sole purpose is to create standards.

At law they have the same force - basically none.

That is, unless they are incorporated into law by a legislature. Then they have the force of law.

For example, Australian Corporations Law requires public companies to publish annual accounts prepared in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards which I believe are a joint publication of the two peak accounting bodies.

Similarly, the Building Code of Australia is published by the Australian Building Codes Board and is called up in legislation in every state and territory. It in turn references standards published by Standards Australia so these are also legislative instruments.

That said, court cases often turn on what a reasonable person would do. The existence of a standard (even one that is not law) and if it was or wasn’t followed can be evidence for or against reasonableness.

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