Case No: 1/2017
Improper Conduct of a Registered Surveyor
1 This is a case of a pre-computation plan of a firm not licensed by the Land Surveyors Board (LSB) but signed by a Registered Surveyor (the Respondent).
2 A copy of an unsigned pre-computation plan of a firm (‘X’) not registered with LSB was sent to LSB by a whistle blower. Although unsigned, it bore the name of the Respondent being the Registered Surveyor of firm ‘X’. The firm’s name bore the initials of the Respondent (i.e. it could be misconstrued to being related to the Respondent) but it was not licensed by LSB and was also not owned by the Respondent.
3 Subsequent investigations uncovered a copy of the pre-computation with the Respondent’s signature and a Work Order issued to the firm by the Client.
Facts Established in the Investigation
4 Although the pre-computation plan was prepared by firm ‘X’, the related survey field work would be executed by yet firm ‘Y’ – another firm providing land survey services although also not licensed by LSB.
5 Firm ‘X’ and firm ‘Y’ were closely related and shared the same office for which the Respondent described as “All under same company, same management”. The incorporation of firm ‘X’ seemed to be made to lend some (apparent) legitimacy to the Respondent to sign survey plans under firm ‘X’.
6 The Respondent claimed to be employed by firm ‘X’, but at the material time of the preparation of the pre-computation plan, he was in possession of a practising certificate which listed his sole proprietary firm ‘A’ as his practice.
7 During the same year, submissions were also made to a Governmental Authority under firm ‘A’. This suggests the contrary to his claims of his employment by firm ‘X’ and his ignorance that his signing under firm ‘X’ would contravene the Land Surveyors Act.
8 The Respondent had claimed that he had only supervised the Computation and Drafting team in firm ‘X’ and had no dealing with firm ‘Y’. This was contradictory as the survey information handled were either for firm ‘Y’ to execute or from firm ‘Y’ to be processed. His distancing from firm ‘Y’ also suggests that he was aware that the works by firm ‘Y’ could be contravening the Land Surveyors Act.
9 The Respondent subsequently admitted to signing for works done by firm ‘Y’.
10 The business addresses of firm ‘X’ and firm ‘A’ were different. At the material period of time, the Respondent was operating from firm ‘X’. However, his place of practice listed in his Practising Certificate was at firm ‘A’ which had a different address. For about 12 months, he had failed to notify LSB on his change of business address within the two weeks period prescribed by the Land Surveyors Act.
Decision of the Land Surveyors Board
11 The Board concluded on the following:
(a) The charge of the Respondent’s signing of survey documents for survey works conducted by Firm ‘Y under Section 15 of the Land Surveyors (Professional Conduct & Ethics) Rules was kept under consideration
(b) The charge of the Respondent’s failure to notify LSB for more than two weeks of his change of business address in contravention of Section 15 (7) and (8) of the Land Surveyors Act was also kept under consideration
(c) The charge of signing the subject pre-computation plan under firm ‘X’, a firm not licensed by the Land Surveyors Board, breached his declaration in the application for renewal of his practising certificate and thereby contravening Section 15(3)(a) of the Land Surveyors Act was proceeded with. This breach constituted an improper conduct for which disciplinary action was provided for under Section 25(1)(d) of the Land Surveyors Act. The Respondent was suspended from practice for 3 months.