17 Jun Board v L
This case was a disciplinary action by the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland (Board) against a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) (de-identified as L) in the Queensland Commercial and Consumer Tribunal (Tribunal).
The Board alleged, and L conceded, that L engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct while registered as a RPEQ. By consent of both parties, the Tribunal ordered that a disciplinary ground was made out.
At the time of the application L had been registered as a RPEQ for a significant period of time and was registered at all times while undertaking work on the land subdivision project in Queensland the subject of the proceeding.
Conduct of L
The parties provided a statement of agreed facts to the Tribunal continuing the admissions as to the conduct of the engineer.
L prepared the design drawings for the project following discussions with the local council, and these drawings were approved for construction by the council with some conditions.
A civil contractor subsequently commenced construction in a manner that did not comply with the approved design and the conditions imposed by the council. L directed that the work cease as it was not consistent with the approved design.
However, L then made a request to the council to accept the works and sent ‘as constructed’ drawings to the council which were in fact a copy of the original approved design drawings. No amendments had been made to reflect the changes to the design. L also sent the council a construction certificate which falsely stated that the construction was in accordance with the drawings.
L admitted that in preparing the original designs that L did not take sufficient care to ensure that the designs could be constructed in accordance with the conditions imposed by the council.
L also admitted that he was aware that the drawings prepared by Land marked ‘as constructed’ which were submitted to the council did not represent what had actually been constructed.
What the Tribunal Said
The evidence before the Tribunal confirmed that L had submitted drawings to the council which did not reflect the actual construction work completed on the project, and additionally that L sent a false certification to the council in support of those drawings.
The Tribunal found that:
- in submitting the ‘as constructed’ drawings with the false certification, L was hoping that the inadequacy in the construction would be overlooked or disregarded by council; and
- to act in this way was conduct falling below the standard to be expected of a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland.
As such, the Tribunal was satisfied that L’s actions in preparing and submitting the false drawings and certification to the council constituted unsatisfactory professional conduct.
Consequences for L
In determining the appropriate penalty, the Tribunal took into account a number of factors in favour of L, including that:
- no actual loss or damage was suffered as a consequence of L’s actions;
- L acted responsibly in directing that work cease once L became aware that construction of the detention basin had not been undertaken in accordance with the original design;
- this proceeding was the first instance of such conduct over L’s long professional career, and the references provided by Las an indication of L’s good standing within the profession; and
- L has already been caused shame and embarrassment by these proceedings.
While it was accepted that L had expressed genuine remorse for his conduct, the Tribunal nevertheless considered that the deterrence of such conduct by others was a relevant consideration.
Taking the above factors into consideration, the Tribunal reprimanded L and ordered L to pay a monetary penalty and the Board’s costs.