If You Are an Engineer in Victoria and You Are Not a Registered Building Practitioner, Are You Totally Confident That You Are Not Breaking the Law?
By Stephen Williams, Lovegrove & Cotton – Construction and Planning Lawyers
A must read for every engineer working in the Victorian Building Industry.
This article outlines the importance of registration under the Building Act 1993 (Vic) for engineers working within the building industry, as well as the consequences for failing to comply with registration requirements.
Who should be a Registered Building Practitioner?
All Civil, Electrical, Fire Safety; and Mechanical Engineers who operate in the Victorian building industry must be RPBs with the BPB. This requirement is mandated by the Building Act 1993 and the Building Regulations 2006. Being registered on the National Professional Engineers Register (NPER), is not sufficient, however it is a prerequisite for registration with the BPB.
Consequences of failing to register
Non-compliance with registration requirements could see you personally liable for a number of offences under the Building Act 1993 (Vic). These offences carry particularly onerous penalties including fines ranging from $14,000 to almost $60,000. These offences are not necessarily offences for failing to register, but rather carrying out work and holding out that to be an engineer without having become an RBP.
Under section 176 of the Act, despite being and engineer and being on the NPER, it is an offence for you to use the title of “engineer” if the use of the title relates to the building industry.
Accordingly, referring to yourself as an engineer, giving out business cards, which describe you as being an engineer, may see you liable for an offence. Even failing to correct a person who refers to you as an engineer may constitute an offence.
Additionally, even if you do not use the title of engineer; it is offence to holding yourself out to be qualified to carry out building related work.
Duty of Individuals
Given that registration attaches to individuals and not corporate entities, it is critical that practitioners are cognisant of their responsibility to ensure that they are compliant with the statutory building regulation scheme.
Duty of Employers
While individuals need to be aware of their obligations, so do employers. Indeed, employers also have a responsibility to ensure that its employees are, where required, registered with the BPB. Importantly, a company’s employees must only carry out functions, which they are permitted to. This requirement extends further than merely ensuring that the employee(s) have the correct tertiary qualifications and experience, they must also, where appropriate, be registered. Where an employer fails to ensure that its employees are RPBs, it may face a raft of difficulties, including denial of insurance, adverse court findings and fines.
There are number of other reasons why you should be registered with the BPB. It assures to clients and other people you engage with that you have the expertise, experience, qualifications and insurance that is required of you.
If you have any doubts regarding the requirement for registration, you should seek legal advice immediately.