The Professional Engineers Registration Act 2019 (VIC) came into effect on 1 July 2021 and requires that engineers practising in Victoria be registered with the Business Licensing Authority (‘the BLA’). The new registration scheme requires engineers who work in specific areas of engineering to be registered and comply with various requirements relating to qualification, professional development, and adherence to a new Code of Conduct.
Under the changes, engineers working in the building industry* must also apply to have their registration endorsed to reflect this. While the BLA issues the endorsement, it may only do so after referral and approval by the Victorian Building Authority (‘the VBA’). This article outlines the impact of the new scheme on our engineering clients.
The legislation prescribes that engineers engaged in the following areas must be registered:
- Structural engineering
- Civil engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Fire Safety engineering
When applying for registration, engineers must note each category of engineering in which they wish to be registered.
Registration applies to individuals, not companies.Individuals acting under the direct supervision of a registered practising engineer may be exempt from registration if certain supervision guidelines are met. The supervising engineer must:
- Provide supervision directly to the unregistered person
- Be competent and have sufficient knowledge
- Oversee and evaluate the carrying out of the service
- Take full responsibility for carrying out the service.
Registration is valid for 3 years.
*defined as work for or in connection with the construction, demolition, or removal of all types of buildings.
For clients previously registered with the VBA in the engineering category, registration under the new scheme will be automatic.Clients who were not previously registered with the VBA will need to apply for registration with the BLA. The BLA will assess eligibility according to various criteria including:
- Required qualification and experience
- Fitness and propriety (this will take into account any previous suspension of engineering registration in any jurisdiction among other criteria)
It is an offence to provide professional engineering services without being registered, with fines of up to $82,000 applicable.
It is important to note that disciplinary action against engineers may be undertaken by the BLA, and this is instituted by a Show Cause notice and then either referred to VCAT or finalised at the discretion of the Director of the BLA if no further action is required. This is a significant departure from the existing regime under the Building Act, as VCAT will hear all disciplinary actions and has the authority to order fines,issue reprimands, vary registration conditions, suspend registration, and various other disciplinary actions. This also means that any application for a review of any decision must be made to the Supreme Court, under limited circumstances (you cannot apply for a review on ‘the facts’).
The VBA may also take disciplinary action against engineers registered as building industry professional engineers with respect to their endorsement. Decisions by the VBA Tribunal may be appealed to VCAT.
Regarding insurance, the Building Act has been amended to explicitly include ‘endorsed building engineers’ with insurance requirements.This means any engineer applying to have their registration endorsed is required to hold the requisite professional indemnity insurance as set out in the current Ministerial Order (as at October 2021) being:
- Limit of indemnity not less than $1.5M for anyone claim and in the aggregate if the limit is costs inclusive.
- Limit of indemnity not less than $1M for any one claim and in the aggregate if the limit is costs exclusive, with not less than$500,00 allowed for in defence costs for any one claim and in the aggregate.
- Not exclude any liability for loss or damage arising out of building work, except for claims relating to the use of non-compliant cladding (please refer to the Order for the wording of this clause).
There are no separate orders relating to insurance in the Professional Engineers Registration Act.
The Act itself came into effect on 1 July 2021, and (except engineers who had their registration carried over from the VBA) the timeline for implementation of the registration requirements is as follows:
- Fire Safety Engineering, 1 December 2021
- Civil Engineering, 1 October 2022
- Structural Engineering, 1 October 2022
- Electrical Engineering, 1 June 2023
- Mechanical Engineering, 1 December 2023
Engineers who had their registration carried over from the existing VBA scheme will need to reapply under the new scheme on the expiry of their current registration.
To find out more about how these changes may affect you,please feel free to reach out at any time.
Senior Insurance Consultant
Prepared by Adair Cusack
Insurance Consultant – Claims and RiskManagement