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The formal complaints process

  1. Initial evaluation

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 IPENZ and acts independently. The adjudicator can:

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 IPENZ 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.

2. Investigating Committee

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.

3. Disciplinary Committee

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. You can appear before the Disciplinary Committee at the hearing and talk about your complaint. You can bring a support person or a lawyer along if you like. 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 IPENZ membership.
  • Suspending the engineer’s registration and/or IPENZ 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 IPENZ 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.