11 Sep 2014

Reports could block IPENZ complaints

12:12 pm on 11 September 2014

Property owners in Canterbury who own land prone to liquefaction are potentially being blocked from complaining about work being done by a geotechnical engineering firm.

Liquefaction following a swarm of earthquakes in Christchurch in December 2011.

Liquefaction following a swarm of earthquakes in Christchurch in December 2011. Photo: RNZ / Bridget Mills

Landowners can only complain about a specific person, and not a company, but no names appear on the geotechnical reports from Golder Associates.

Several reports by Golder Associates obtained by Radio New Zealand bear no signatures, names or qualifications of the person who completed the report.

That means the homeowner does not know which engineer completed the report, which removes the owner's ability to complain to IPENZ.

The Christchurch City Council said it receives verification that the report has been done by or reviewed by a qualified engineer.

"Golder has a two-tier quality assurance process that includes both a technical and a procedural check before the report is provided to a client," it said.

It also said it tests the validity of the reports against information held by the council and the Canterbury Geotechnical Database.

But a report obtained by Radio New Zealand from another company includes the name, signature and qualifications of the the engineer who wrote the report.

IPENZ's Code of Ethics states that engineers must accept personal responsibility for their work.

When asked whether not naming and signing the reports breaches that code, IPENZ did not answer.

But it said that it is its view that the client would normally know the name of the engineer that is working on the report.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says, under its guidelines, signatures are not required on the reports.

When asked if it expect reports to be signed, it said if the reports are being checked by the company, it is satisfied there is sufficient accountability.

Golder Associates' clients are the insurance companies and Radio New Zealand approached Southern Response for comment but is yet to hear back.

Golder Associates refused to make any comment to Radio New Zealand.

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