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’:
- behave in a way that constitutes ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct’
- failed to comply with the provisions of the PE Act
- are convicted of an offence against an act of the state, the Commonwealth or another state relating to the practice of engineering
- contravened an undertaking entered into by the RPEQ with BPEQ.
- 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:
- 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
- enter into an undertaking with the RPEQ about a matter relating to their carrying out professional engineering services
- formally caution or reprimand the RPEQ and details of the caution or reprimand can be recorded on the register of RPEQs
- 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.
- 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
BPEQ may reject the complaint if it reasonably considers that the complaint is:
- frivolous – if it is manifestly futile or does not have any serious purpose or value or
- trivial – if it is of little value or importance or
- 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
- misconceived – if it is clear that the complainant has failed to understand something correctly or
- lacking in substance – there is incomplete factual information, lacking quality of importance, validity or significance.