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IPENZ Disciplinary hearing to continue despite resignation

IPENZ Disciplinary hearing to continue despite resignation

IPENZ has received a letter of resignation of IPENZ membership from Mr David Harding. That resignation removes the jurisdiction of IPENZ over Mr Harding as a member.

It does not affect IPENZ’s jurisdiction over Mr Harding as a chartered professional engineer, which he has been since 2006.

Two disciplinary hearings scheduled for 14 July will still proceed.

The first, in regard to complaints about Mr Harding’s engineering activities in regard to the CTV building in the 1980s, is convened under the IPENZ membership rules. Due to Mr Harding’s resignation the Disciplinary Committee will not, even if it wishes, be able to make any order against him. As a consequence, the form of the hearing may be truncated, and the nature of the Disciplinary Committee’s findings more limited than if Mr Harding had remained a member.

The second, in regard to his re-assessment for continued registration as a chartered professional engineer in 2011 is intended to proceed as planned because it is unaffected by his membership status.

Now that IPENZ is no longer able to make disciplinary orders in respect of the complaints received about the conduct of members in regard to the design and construction of the CTV building, IPENZ considers it is able to make public comments about the building.

The regulatory system of the day placed no restriction on who could undertake design work – the relevant requirement was to meet the by-laws of the Christchurch City Council which were a set of technical standards and requirements. Membership of IPENZ was entirely coincidental and formed no part of the regulatory system.

The powers available since the passing of the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002 are much stronger.

As the registration authority, IPENZ has disciplinary jurisdiction over both current and former chartered professional engineers for their actions taken whilst on the register.

IPENZ is of the view that the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission conducted a thorough investigation related to the CTV building and fully accepts the findings of the Commission.

Specifically, IPENZ accepts:
· That there were a number of non-compliant aspects of the CTV building. The design did not conform to the accepted minimum practice standard of the day in the structural engineering field (it did not meet the requirements set by the Christchurch City Council).

· There were a number of deficiencies in the design work. The primary design engineer did not have the competence for designing a building of the complexity of CTV.

· The deficiencies in the design were not corrected through supervision and review systems within the design firm.

· Some deficiencies may have been detected by the Christchurch City Council, but were not corrected prior to the issue of a building permit.

· Deficiencies were not detected during construction as might have occurred if the construction manager had been present more often at site.

· The site inspections by the primary design engineer did not prevent the construction defects from occurring.

In 2009 IPENZ and the Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) jointly issued a Practice Note on “Structural Design Office Practice”. That note includes guidance such as:

· “Follow logical design phases – concept, preliminary, developed, detailed – with review … at the end of each phase”

· “Involve senior and experienced engineers in deciding the structural form”

· “Some form of quality assurance or internal review process is essential to ensure consistent and defect-minimised design output”

· “For large projects, frequent design review, and designated hold-points are essential”

· “While arithmetic accuracy can usually be checked by competent junior staff, other aspects of the review invariably require input by experienced professionals”

· “Small practices and sole practitioners need to be particularly mindful of how to achieve effective review, particularly when undertaking complex work. Some form of external review, possibly on a reciprocal arrangement, may be an appropriate solution”

· “Effective detailed and thorough review of drawings is a tedious yet essential task, usually requiring input by senior staff.”

The practice described by the Royal Commission in its report on the 1986 design of the CTV building is not consistent with what the profession set out in 2009 as a good practice methodology.

IPENZ and ACENZ intend to review the 2009 practice note to ensure that good practice as it exists in 2014 is well-described in an updated version, and understood in the profession.

The combination of consistent application of the good practice described in the practice note (and any future revision thereof), and Building Consent Authorities requiring all structural engineering design work and reviews of that work to be undertaken by, or under the supervision of, a chartered professional engineer lies at the heart of a fit for purpose regulatory regime.

Such a regime would lead to defect-minimised design output, and the holding to account of those responsible in the event of any future poor performance.


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