29 Jun 2022
A Disciplinary Committee has censured a Christchurch engineer for undertaking engineering activities outside of his area of competence and failing to do so in a careful and competent manner.
The engineer was engaged by his client to help settle a dispute about the work required to remediate his client’s property following the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence. The engineer was to review reports provided by Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd and provide structural engineering advice as part of his client’s submission to the High Court.
The Committee found the engineer provided general and nonspecific reports that were substandard and not fit for purpose.
“We consider the reports were inadequate for an engineer engaged to provide their expert opinion and did not provide [his] client with the information and advice needed,” it said.
The engineer issued four reports to his client, three of which saw multiple iterations, introducing confusion.
“With so many revisions of his reports issued, we do not understand why [the engineer] did not identify changes between the revisions of his reports. His comment they could be compared by placing side by side would not be helpful to a client,” the Committee said.
The engineer also provided geotechnical engineering advice, which was outside his area of competence as a structural engineer, and did not explicitly advise his client they should seek advice from a geotechnical engineer.
“We reject counsel’s submission that [the engineer] did not hold himself out to be a geotechnical engineer,” the Committee said, noting the engineer had done so implicitly “insofar as he has provided geotechnical advice and comment on the work of geotechnical engineers throughout”.
The Committee was also concerned that there were communication issues and the scope of the engineer’s engagements “was not well documented, and deliverables and timeframes were not adequately specified.”
The engineer submitted that he has reflected on his actions and recognised the need to improve communication with his clients, as well make process improvements.
The Committee ordered the engineer be censured as a Chartered Professional Engineer and admonished as Member of Engineering New Zealand. A fine of $3,500 and 50 percent contribution towards the costs of the investigation of $9,370 (plus GST).
Notes to reporters
- Engineering New Zealand is New Zealand's professional body for engineers, with some 22,000 members. We represent – and regulate – our members. We also act as the Registration Authority for Chartered Professional Engineers.
- The engineer in this case has name suppression. The Procedural History should be read alongside this decision.
- Disciplinary Committees can make orders under the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002 and Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Rules (No 2) 2002. Where an engineer is a member of Engineering New Zealand as well as a chartered professional engineer, orders can also be made under our membership rules and disciplinary regulations. The maximum fine that can be imposed is $5,000 under the Act or $10,000 under the membership rules.
- For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Stacey Campbell on 04 460 3571.