The meaning of agency

Many PADI Professionals seem to be confused about the reason for the required Non-Agency Acknowledgement and Agreement in PADI training programs. The legal concept of agency is something many of us may never have even heard of, much less have considered as a part of our day-to-day professional lives.

In general terms, agency is the concept that a business may be found to be responsible for the acts of others, such as its employees (this is common, something we all probably take for granted). This also means, however, that when a business entity (typically a supplier) controls the actions of another business or individual service provider (such as may be the case in a franchise), the controlling business may be found to be responsible for the actions of the controlled business/individual and the employees of that business/individual.

The PADI organization has long defined the membership’s legal relationship within the organization in membership agreements. The concept of agency is and has been part of those agreements for quite some time as a matter of responsible legal clarity. In the two PADI membership agreements, one for dive businesses and the other for individual members, the following texts appear:

Individual Member:

  1. I understand and agree that this Agreement does not create an agency relationship between PADI and me. Except as otherwise provided in this Membership Agreement, PADI has no control over or involvement with my day-to-day operations and activities and bears no responsibility for the
    same.

Retail and Resort Member:

  1. I understand and agree that this Agreement does not create an agency relationship between my facility and PADI. Except as otherwise provided in this Membership Agreement, PADI has no control over or involvement with my facility’s day-to-day operations and activities and bears no responsibility for the same.

Within the PADI Membership, there is little likelihood of confusion.  Dive stores don’t picture themselves as franchises, subsidiaries or legal business partners of PADI, nor do individual members consider themselves to be PADI employees. However, the critical legal issue is not what we professionals know to be the case, but what consumers may perceive. It is therefore a responsible business practice to make certain the actual relationship – what it is and what it is not – relative to the agency concept is made clear to your students and customers.

For this purpose, the Non-agency Acknowledgement Agreement was created. Similar information appears throughout PADI materials, products and information sources, including diver manuals and videos, on websites, on member business cards and more. Making this issue clear is simply good business practice for us, and a useful, ethical clarification for the consumers we serve.

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