26 Aug 2020
Christchurch engineer Joseph McGirr has been suspended for failing to act professionally.
Mr McGirr faced two separate complaints concerning his behaviour as a professional. The first related to him being convicted of drink driving for a third time within a short period. The second concerned him entering the house of a former client uninvited after drinking alcohol.
The Disciplinary Committee upheld both complaints and ordered that Mr McGirr be suspended from the register of Chartered Professional Engineers and membership of Engineering New Zealand for three months and only reinstated if he completed approved drug and alcohol counselling and professional ethics counselling.
It also ordered he pay a total of $37,000 in fines and costs.
The Disciplinary Committee said Mr McGirr’s three convictions for drink-driving, and failure to comply with a supervision order, “indicate poor decision-making, disrespect for the law and a serious lack of judgment by Mr McGirr”.
It said that while these offences didn’t occur while Mr McGirr was undertaking engineering work, their seriousness means they cannot be separated from his professional life.
“If a person demonstrates poor judgment, disrespect for legal sanctions and bad decision-making in their private life, it is not unreasonable to assume that the reasonable public and a body of their peers will assume that this behaviour will also affect their professional activities.”
In relation to the other complaint, where Mr McGirr entered the complainant’s house uninvited, under the influence of alcohol, the Disciplinary Committee said its decision was “an important reminder for the profession that the Code of Ethical Conduct always applies to engineers’ behaviour towards their clients, including outside working hours”.
“Mr McGirr’s actions fell very well short of what would reasonably be expected of a Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand and as a Chartered Professional Engineer.”
Notes to reporters
- Read the full decision regarding the own-motion inquiry into drink-driving convictions
- Read the case note regarding the complaint about entering a former client’s house (please note that the full decision for this case is not publicly available to protect the privacy of the complainant)