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Difference Between A Law And A Standard

Despite all the information available to us today about ISO, many people still find it difficult to understand the difference between a Standard and a Law.


According to google, a law is defined as, "the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by the imposition of penalties." On the other hand, a standard has been defined as, "a required or agreed level of quality or attainment.


In other words, a law MUST be followed, failure to which there will be some ENFORCED repercussions. As for a standard, it is completely voluntary.


It is therefore correct to say that a standard is not a law. It is an agreement or best practice that an organisation can apply voluntarily. A standard reflects a good level of professionalism. Though it is not a law in itself, any standard you implement in your organization has the potential to help you to comply with various laws governing your business, your industry, your country or your respective trade block.


An Example of Law and Standard in action:

Every business or organization must be aware of the Consumer Protection law or the consumer law that protects consumers of the countries within which its products are sold. According to Wikipedia, "Consumer Protection is a group of laws and organizations designed to ensure the rights of consumers as well as fair trade, competition and accurate information in the marketplace."

Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, a few of which are mentioned below:

  1. Right to Basic Needs
  2. Right to Safety
  3. Right to Information
  4. Right to Choose
  5. Right to Representation
  6. Right to Redress
  7. Right to Consumer Education
  8. Right to a Healthy Environment

That is about the law. What about when it comes to standards, is there a standard that focuses on consumer protection? Quite a number actually. 

As we all know, retaining loyal, happy customers is the key to any successful business, but the fickle consumer world is not always easy to please. A series of guidelines has just been published, bringing together international best practice on customer satisfaction. In summary these are:

  1. ISO 10001, Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for codes of conduct for organizations
  2. ISO 10002, Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for complaints handling in organizations
  3. ISO 10003, Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for dispute resolution external to organizations
  4. ISO 10004, Quality management – Customer satisfaction – Guidelines for monitoring and measuring

Do you now see the difference between the law and the standards? Whereas law is MANDATORY, a standard comprises of guidelines that an organization can CHOOSE to or not to apply. The connection in the two is that when an organization decides to comply by implementing standards, the organization automatically complies with the laws addressed and/or supported by the specific standard.

So, now that you know the importance of implementing standards in relation to being on the side of the law, when can we meet up to discuss the various ways standards will help your organizatioin stay within the law? 

Talk to us and let's advice you on the various standards you can implement within your organization.

Send an email to with your query or fill in this form and we will get back to you. You can also WhatsApp or call +255 676 877 995.