If someone raises serious concerns about the competence, conduct or behaviour of one of our members or a Chartered Professional Engineer, we may commence a formal investigation and disciplinary process.
This process looks at whether the engineer has breached their professional or ethical obligations. These obligations are contained in the:
- Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002
- Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Rules (No 2) 2002
- Engineering New Zealand Rules
The investigation and disciplinary process is a formal regulated process.
We will let you know if we think a formal process is the best way to resolve the concerns. This means they will be formally recorded in our system as a complaint.
We provide the information we have gathered to an adjudicator, who makes a decision on how the complaint should proceed. This person is a senior engineer appointed by us and acts independently. The adjudicator can:
- dismiss the complaint
- talk to you about alternative disputes resolution, or
- refer the complaint to an Investigating Committee.
A complaint may be dismissed if:
- There is no applicable ground of discipline. The most common grounds are that an engineer has acted negligently, acted incompetently, or breached the Code of Ethical Conduct.
- The matter is trivial.
- The alleged misconduct is insufficiently grave.
- The complaint is frivolous or vexatious, or not made in good faith.
- The person offended against doesn’t wish to proceed.
- The person bringing the complaint doesn’t have sufficient personal interest in the matter.
- Too much time has elapsed to make an investigation practicable or desirable.
If the adjudicator dismisses the complaint, we will tell you why. We’ll also let you know what your options are if you’re not happy with the decision.
Sometimes even though the adjudicator dismisses a complaint, they may suggest that some action be taken. For example, that Engineering New Zealand send an educational letter to the engineer, review the engineer’s competence, or publish an anonymised case note to share any learnings from the complaint.
An Investigating Committee is made up of three engineers from our panel of Investigating Committee Chairs and members.
The Investigating Committee will consider all available information, and may gather more information. The Investigating Committee does not usually hold a formal hearing.
They will decide whether to:
- dismiss the complaint, or
- refer the complaint to a Disciplinary Committee.
They may also talk to you about alternative disputes resolution.
If the complaint is dismissed, we will tell you why. We’ll also let you know what your options are if you’re not happy with the decision.
We will appoint a Disciplinary Committee from our panel of Disciplinary Committee Chairs and members. There are either three or five members on each Disciplinary Committee – a Chair and an equal number of engineers and lay representatives.
The Disciplinary Committee will hold a formal hearing. These usually take one day, and they are usually open to the public. You can appear before the Disciplinary Committee at the hearing and you can bring a support person or a lawyer along if you like. If you attend, you should be prepared to answer questions from the Disciplinary Committee and the other party. Your lawyer can speak for you if you wish.
The Disciplinary Committee will consider the complaint and make a decision on whether there are grounds for disciplining the engineer and, if so, what the penalties should be. Both parties are given the opportunity to make submissions on the penalties.
Penalties can include:
- Removing the engineer’s registration and/or Engineering New Zealand membership.
- Suspending the engineer’s registration and/or Engineering New Zealand membership.
- Censuring the engineer.
- Ordering the engineer to pay a fine not exceeding $5,000.
The Disciplinary Committee can also order that the engineer:
- Contribute to the costs of the inquiry.
- Be named.
Sometimes the Disciplinary Committee might make other recommendations. For example, that Engineering New Zealand reassess the engineer’s competence, or that the engineer undertake further education.
We will tell you why the Disciplinary Committee made this decision. We’ll also let you know what your options are if you’re not happy with the decision.
All Disciplinary Committee decisions are published. If the Disciplinary Committee has ordered that the engineer not be named, the decision will be published in an anonymised form.
Appealing a decision
Before lodging an appeal, contact us and we’ll try to work through your concerns on the decision.
If the complaint is about a member of Engineering New Zealand, you can appeal decisions of the Disciplinary Committee. Your appeal must be lodged with us within 28 days from the time you are notified of the decision. We’ll then form a panel to consider the appeal.
If the complaint is about a Chartered Professional Engineer, you can appeal any decision on a complaint to the Chartered Professional Engineers Council (CPEC). You have 28 days to lodge the appeal from the time you are notified of the decision.
Our concerns and complaints process is confidential to the parties involved, to protect people’s privacy and encourage parties to participate in an open and honest way. Engineering New Zealand will only share information relating to the complaint in accordance with our Rules and Disciplinary Regulations, and applicable legislation including the Privacy Act 1993, the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002 and the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Rules (No 2) 2002.