R&D Tax Relief; what is a Competent Professional?

Understanding Competent Professionals in the Context of UK R&D Tax Relief 

If you landed on this blog, you likely have some understanding of R&D. If not, here’s a good starting point for you to refer to. 

The term “competent professional” is crucial when determining whether you have an eligible R&D claim. But why are competent professionals so important? 


Why Are Competent Professionals Important for Your R&D Claim? 

  1. Defining Uncertainty: Uncertainty in R&D exists when a competent professional does not know how to solve the technical challenges being faced. Showing this uncertainty is essential for your R&D claim to succeed. 
  1. Expanding Knowledge: New knowledge is created only if the solution is not easily figured out by a competent professional in the field. If it’s easily figured out, your R&D claim will not be valid. 
  1. Validating R&D: A competent professional can confirm that your company’s R&D activities are genuine and significant. Without their validation, your R&D claim will not succeed. 
  2. Marking the End of R&D: R&D ends when knowledge is recorded in a way that a competent professional in the field can use, or when a prototype or pilot plant with all functional characteristics of the final product is created. If you can’t show this conclusion, you might overclaim R&D expenditure. 


Simply put, the success of your R&D claim depends on the input and validation from a competent professional. 


What is a Competent Professional? 

The term “competent professional working in the field” isn’t formally defined because its natural meaning is clear. However, for an R&D claim to be legitimate, the competent professional must have expertise in the specific field of science or technology being advanced. 

For example, a competent professional in biochemical science would not be suitable for developing software, just as a computer engineer would not be expected to pioneer cancer cure research. 


Characteristics of a Competent Professional in Their Field of Expertise: 

  • Relevant Knowledge: They should have a deep understanding of the relevant scientific and technological principles. 
  • Current Awareness: They must be aware of the current state of knowledge in their field. 
  • Experience and Recognition: They should have accumulated experience and be recognised for having a successful track record. 

Simply working in a field or having an intelligent interest does not automatically make someone a competent professional. Their competence must be directly relevant to the scientific or technological advancements being pursued. 


In Summary 

A competent professional’s expertise, experience, and recognition in their specific field are essential for validating R&D activities and ensuring the legitimacy of R&D tax relief claims. 

This is a summary article. Should you have any queries about R&D, please contact us for detailed advice and support.