Complaints Process

BPEQ is responsible for protecting the public by ensuring professional engineering services are provided by RPEQs in a professional and competent way, maintaining public confidence in the standard of services provided by RPEQs and upholding the standards of practice of RPEQs.

 

BPEQ has a regulatory function which encompasses two separate legal avenues for investigating and the subsequent punishment (if practicableof poor behaviour when practising professional engineering in Queensland.  Those two avenues are often described as ‘discipline’, which concerns the conduct of RPEQs, and ‘compliance’, which concerns offences against the PE Act.

Discipline – Conduct of a RPEQ

The PE Act has a mechanism for taking action against RPEQs found guilty of any of the following ‘disciplinary grounds’: 

  1. behave in a way that constitutes ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct’
  2. failed to comply with the provisions of the PE Act
  3. are convicted of an offence against an act of the state, the Commonwealth or another state relating to the practice of engineering
  4. contravened an undertaking entered into by the RPEQ with BPEQ.
  5. contravened a condition of the RPEQ’s registration.

It should be noted that these disciplinary grounds only apply to RPEQs. The grounds do not constitute criminal offences. If an engineer has engaged in any of the above conduct, then BPEQ can take the following ‘disciplinary action’ against the RPEQ: 

  1. start a disciplinary proceeding in QCAT, usually with a view to obtaining an order of the Tribunal that the RPEQ’s registration be suspended or cancelled or that they be disqualified from practicing as a RPEQ
  2. enter into an undertaking with the RPEQ about a matter relating to their carrying out professional engineering services
  3. formally caution or reprimand the RPEQ and details of the caution or reprimand can be recorded on the register of RPEQs
  4. impose a condition on the RPEQ’s registration.

Persons who are aggrieved by the conduct of a RPEQ carrying out professional engineering services – that qualifies as unsatisfactory professional conduct – can lodge a complaint with BPEQ. Unsatisfactory professional conduct, as set out in the PE Act, includes the following: 

  • conduct that is of a lesser standard than that which might reasonably be expected of the RPEQ by the public or the RPEQ’s professional peers
  • conduct that demonstrates incompetence, or a lack of adequate knowledge, skill, judgement or care, in the practice of engineering
  • misconduct in a professional respect
  • fraudulent or dishonest behaviour in the practice of engineering
  • other improper or unethical conduct.

BPEQ cannot:

  • resolve contractual disputes or other similar grievance
  • require the RPEQ the subject of a complaint to do anything (e.g. undertake rectification, remediation, pay compensation or other legal remedy)
  • assess safety risks and ordinarily will not visit a subject site and/or assess the safety standards of an engineering service that is the subject of a complaint
  • provide legal advice or influence a matter before a court or tribunal.
Complaint and Investigation Process
Intake

Complaint

or

BPEQ’s own-motion

Decision to investigate

Yes or No

If Yes, investigator appointed

If No, no further action (notification not to investigate to respondent engineer and complainant)

Investigation
  1. Interview the person subject of investigation and any other witnesses
  2. Seek further information
  3. Engage an expert (in relevant area of engineering) to provide a report
Post-investigation

Five options

  1. Start disciplinary proceeding in QCAT
  2. Enter agreed undertaking
  3. Caution/reprimand
  4. Impose agreed registration condition
  5. Take no further action about the matter the subject of the investigation
QCAT

If successful, options include:

  1. Reprimand
  2. Penalty
  3. Registration condition
  4. Suspension or cancellation of registration
  5. Disqualification
  6. Imposition of legal and/or investigative costs in favour of BPEQ

BPEQ may reject the complaint if it reasonably considers that the complaint is:

  1. frivolous – if it is manifestly futile or does not have any serious purpose or value or
  2. trivial – if it is of little value or importance or
  3. vexatious – if it causes or tends to cause annoyance, frustration or worry; if it is an action which is brought without sufficient grounds; if it is an action which is brought for a collateral purpose; or, finally, if, irrespective of the motive of the complainant, it is so obviously untenable or manifestly groundless to be utterly hopeless or
  4. misconceived – if it is clear that the complainant has failed to understand something correctly or
  5. lacking in substance – there is incomplete factual information, lacking quality of importance, validity or significance.
Make a complaint about a RPEQ’s conduct

 

Make a complaint

COMPLIANCE – OFFENCE AGAINST THE PE ACT

The PE Act contains several sections that create criminal offences.  If a person commits a criminal offence against the PE Act then BPEQ can charge them with the criminal offence and prosecute them through the Magistrate’s Court with the intention of obtaining a conviction for the offence. Upon conviction the Board would usually seek a fine that is intended to operate as a penalty for the offender and to deter the offender and the rest of the community from committing offences against the PE Act. The primary offences are for individuals who are not RPEQs but carry out unsupervised professional engineering services or who claim to be RPEQs when they are not. Notifications about non-compliance with the PE Act can be made to BPEQ. 

Notification and Investigation Process
Intake

Any information that causes BPEQ to reasonably suspect an offence has been committed

Decision to investigate

Yes or No

If Yes, investigator appointed

If No, no further action (notification not to investigate to respondent engineer and complainant)

Investigation
  1. Interview the person subject of investigation and any other witnesses
  2. Seek further information
  3. Engage an expert (in relevant area of engineering) to provide a report
Post-investigation

Four options

  1. Start prosecution in Magistrates Court
  2. Enter agreed undertaking
  3. Caution/reprimand
  4. Take no further action
Magistrates Court

If successful, options include:

  1. Penalty
  2. Conviction on record
  3. Imposition of legal and/or investigative costs in favour of BPEQ
Make a notification about an offence

 

Make a notification

OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS

BPEQ is not a forum to resolve contractual disputes and has no powers to order restitution or compensation. Agencies that may be able to assist include:

Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC)

Street address: 299 Montague Road West End Qld 4101
Postal address: GPO Box 5099 Brisbane Qld 4001

Phone: 1300 272 272
Fax: (07) 3225 2999

Web: www.qbcc.qld.gov.au

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

Street address: Level 9 259 Queen Street Brisbane
Postal address: GPO Box 1639 Brisbane Qld 4001

Phone: 1300 753 228
Fax: (07) 3221 9156

Web: www.qcat.qld.gov.au

Housing Industry Association (Qld) (HIA)

Street Address: 14 Edmonstone Street South Brisbane Qld 4101
Postal address: PO Box 3573 South Brisbane Qld 4101

Consumer line: 1902 973 555
Phone: (07) 3021 8800
Fax: (07) 3021 8892

Web: www.hia.com.au

Queensland Master Builders Association (QMBA)

Street address: 417 – 419 Wickham terrace Brisbane Qld 4000

General Enquiries: 1300 305 010
Phone: (07) 3225 6444
Fax: (07) 3225 6545

Web: www.masterbuilders.asn.au

Department of Justice and Attorney-General Dispute Resolution Centre

Street address: Level 1 Brisbane Magistrates Court 363 George Street Brisbane Qld 4000
Postal address: GPO Box 149 Brisbane Qld 4001

Phone: (07) 3239 6007
Fax: (07) 3239 0200

Web: www.justice.qld.gov.au/mediation/

FURTHER INFORMATION

BPEQ’s complaint / notification, investigation and disciplinary / prosecution processes are independent of any other complaint or dispute resolution process (including litigation) in which the parties, or other persons, to the complaint are involved. BPEQ cannot assist unless required to do so by law.

The Complaints against Registered Professional Engineers and Investigation Decisions Policy (2.1 (5A)) and Offences and Investigation Decisions Policy (2.2 (5A)) contains more information about BPEQ’s processes.