23 April 2014

IPENZ welcomes MBIE initiative to seek a Judicial Review in Reay case

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The Institution of Professional Engineers (IPENZ) has welcomed the initiative by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to seek a Judicial Review of an IPENZ decision not to proceed with an investigation into Dr Alan Reay as a result of complaints made against him.

IPENZ Chief Executive Susan Freeman-Greene says the MBIE initiative is a desirable step towards clarifying the law around disciplinary action against engineers who are subject to complaints.

“While IPENZ is named in the application by MBIE as a respondent, we regard a Judicial Review as an opportunity to clarify the law at a time when the Government is considering a single regulatory framework to govern all building-related occupations,” she said.

“We recognise that the events associated with the Christchurch earthquakes have highlighted areas that need revisiting in a disciplinary process that has evolved over many years.

We understand and support the widespread desire to have a disciplinary process that achieves accountability, is fair and easily understandable.”

Ms Freeman-Greene says IPENZ’s decisions on complaints against engineers following the Christchurch earthquake had been based on its interpretation after legal advice of the framework and rules that govern its disciplinary process at that time.

“There is a need for robust disciplinary processes yet IPENZ needs to make decisions on complaints processes within the regulatory framework and the rules that govern the IPENZ disciplinary process. The IPENZ Rules have now been amended to put it beyond doubt that Members cannot avoid responsibility by resigning,” she said.

ENDS

Editors' Note

Complaints against IPENZ Members are considered by an Investigating Committee to determine if there is a case to answer. If the committee considers there is (a case to answer), a Disciplinary Committee considers the evidence, makes a decision and determines penalty.

Complaints about Dr Alan Reay were being considered by an Investigating Committee when he resigned as an IPENZ Member on 28 February 2014. After seeking legal advice, IPENZ concluded it no longer had jurisdiction to deal with disciplinary proceedings against him.

IPENZ did proceed with complaints against Mr David Harding (who had also resigned as an IPENZ Member) because the complaints process had advanced from the Investigating Committee stage to the Disciplinary Committee stage and IPENZ considered it did have the appropriate jurisdiction. Mr Harding challenged that decision, but a High Court Judge determined that IPENZ was entitled to consider the complaint.

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