Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Standard Definition:

The technical or performance specifications in regards to a product.

Related Terms: Consensus

Standards are often called voluntary standards or industrial standards to distinguish them from performance or technical specifications which are required by law.

There are international organizations which publish and promote the adoption of a single standard worldwide. Two organizations dominate this area: the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Standards are developed through private agencies (such as the Canadian Standards Association), or government agencies (such as the Canadian General Standards Board or the Bureau de normalisation du Quebec), or through a hybrid such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).

In all instances, the process of development and modification to a standard is the same: by committee. Special committees exist for every standard. The committee may be one of long-standing or an ad hoc committee but in any event, the goal is the same, the development of a consensus standard.

There are two substantial disadvantages to standards. One is that the composition of the committee is usually dominated by manufacturing interests or other interests which derive an economic advantage from the manufacturer, or sale of the particular product. Secondly, the development of a standard is done by collective compromise, the process known as consensus.

In some areas, the government is not prepared at all to defer to the realm of voluntary standards to determine the safety or performance specifications of a particular product. This is especially true with food or health products.


  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Consumer Law

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