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CIR 01/22 | Updates regarding S.L.623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended)

UPDATED 13/05/2022

 

 

 

 

 

The recent changes in the processing of clearance requests filed by periti on behalf of their clients to the BCA have brought to the fore yet again the serious issues related to the Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations, S.L.623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended).

Ever since the publication of these regulations in the Government Gazette on 25th June 2019, the Council of the Kamra has never ceased its efforts to have these regulations replaced with a sound suite of regulations that would align our industry with best-practice legislation found in the rest of Europe, in the interest of public safety and quality in the built environment.

Our efforts may not have been visible, and we have been very often restrained in our communication about the extensive discussions happening behind the scenes. This restraint was not because we did not feel the need to keep you updated, but because successful negotiations can only happen when the parties around the table demonstrate good faith and discretion.

Many periti have frequently reached out to the Council privately to express their frustrations or vented their disgruntlement on the Periti Discussion Group on Facebook. We have listened to every word and read every post and comment. We understand what you have been going through because all of us on Council are also in practice and go through the same things you do on a daily basis. We also share your deep concern about how the profession has been abused to make up for the grave shortcomings in the industry and its gross regulatory failures.

These shared concerns motivate the Council to doggedly and incessantly push for regulatory reform, no matter how long it takes or how long-winded the discussions are.

 

We are now in a position to update you on some of the progress we have made.

 

1. PROCESSING OF CLEARANCE REQUESTS

 

On 17th February 2022, when the Council was alerted by members of the profession that significant changes to the processing of commencement/clearance requests had been suddenly brought into force, we requested an urgent meeting with the BCA. After three meetings, lasting approximately 11 hours in total, we have reached an agreement on the new procedures that will be adopted by the BCA on clearance requests going forward.

The new procedures are outlined in the Guidance Note issued by the BCA linked below.

 

This guidance note reflects several positions the Kamra has been advocating for the past 32 months and 25 days, namely:

 

  1. The role of STOs as intended in the regulations, albeit questionable, is to supplement the setup of contractors. Exemption requests for the appointment of STOs should thus be made by contractors since it is their responsibility to appoint them. The perit-in-charge should have no involvement whatsoever in any such exemption requests.
  2. The provisions of the regulations do not distinguish among projects of differing scale and risk. The full application of the regulations for projects that do not result in any risk to third-parties, such as the removal of surface top-soil or floor build-ups, is excessive and disproportionate.
  3. Periti should be given the opportunity to exercise their professional judgement in assessing the site-specific risk of each project. Many of the new procedural provisions found in the BCA’s guidance note rely on the risk assessment of the perit-in-charge in determining requests for partial waivers of provisions in the regulations. However, such waiver requests should be filed by the beneficiary of such requests, namely the developer or the contractor, as applicable, and the BCA should make a determination on whether such a waiver request is accepted. Periti should not be compelled to carry liabilities for others.
  4. There should be a distinction between periti forming part of the design team, and those working in the contractor team. STOs and periti drafting method statements should form part of the latter team. This is clearly inferred in the Guidance Note.
  5. The BCA is clamping down on the indiscriminate use of regulation 26 to circumvent the regulations altogether. The BCA has presented Council representatives a number of outrageous regulation 26 requests signed by warrant holders that are grossly irresponsible and negligent, and which are bringing the profession into disrepute among BCA officials as a result. Although the BCA has never filed complaints to the Kamra about individual periti, the Council will not hesitate to open conduct cases should complaints filed by the BCA be substantiated.

 

It is important to also underscore that the negligent behaviour of some periti resulting in insurance claim settlements, is one of the reasons why PII insurance premia continue to rise. It is the Council’s duty to the entire profession to uphold standards to ensure warrant-holders practise professionally at all times.

 

The requests for waivers under regulation 25 as outlined in the guidance note may be filed in the form of a letter signed by the developer or contractor, as applicable, and submitted together with the risk assessment by the perit who applied for the permit, who would not carry any professional liability for the request. There are no specific forms issued by the BCA envisaged for the filing of such requests.

 

The Kamra has always discouraged periti from using regulation 26 declarations, and has recommended to periti the use of regulation 25, instead, when appropriate. The BCA has now adopted the Kamra’s position on this matter, as evidenced throughout the guidance note.

The potential implication of regulation 26 declarations, with no review or assessment by the BCA, is that periti signing them may be carrying third-party liability on their own. On the other hand, the fact that regulation 25 waiver requests would necessitate a determination by the BCA and would not bear the signature of the perit-in-charge would ensure that third-party liability would be apportioned in the manner that has long been established by the Civil Code.

Nevertheless, the Kamra has consistently maintained that LN 136 of 2019 (as amended) can only work through exemptions and waivers, making it a deficient piece of legislation that was hastily drafted and must be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

 

2. AMENDMENTS TO LN 136 OF 2019

 

The Kamra is engaged in concurrent discussions with the BCA on overhauling the provisions of LN 136 of 2019 to make it work. As you will certainly be aware, the Council had published a redraft in April 2021 which encompassed most of the recommendations found in the Quintano Report. The redraft was circulated among periti and the media for feedback and recommendations.

Securing amendments to LN 136 of 2019 is, of course, an interim solution until a more comprehensive suite of building and construction regulations are published and the licensing of contractors is brought into force. We understand, however, that this process is not envisaged to be completed in the short-term.

Thus, the BCA agreed with the Kamra to undertake immediate discussions on the amendments to the legal notice necessary to address its main deficiencies and eliminate all scenarios that may result in positions of conflict forced upon members of the profession by the regulations themselves.

The objective is to ensure that such amendments are brought into force in the short-term.

 

 

3. DIRECTIVE ON PRACTISING ETHICALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF LN 136 OF 2019

 

As many of you will be aware, the Council organised an Extraordinary General Meeting last December to consult with members of the profession on the principles behind a Directive the Council had drafted. The draft directive’s purpose was to reinforce the separation of the design team and contractor team, and consequently the separation of roles and liabilities of periti within the two distinct teams. Such demarcation will ensure that the confusion about professional liabilities that has arisen since these regulations came into force is addressed, and will provide direction to periti on how to comply with the First Code in the Code of Professional Conduct of Periti (S.L.390.01) governing positions of conflict.

This new Directive, whose principles were unanimously approved by the EGM, will be issued in the very near future.

 

 

4. GUIDANCE ON RISK ASSESSMENT

 

In previous sections of this circular, we have made mention of the requirement for periti-in-charge to draw up risk assessment reports as part of the new waiver procedures.

The Council has prepared guidance on how periti are to undertake a Risk Assessment, extracting those elements from the schedules of LN 136 of 2019 that should be prepared by the perit-in-charge, or a perit within the design team.

Guidance on the preparation of risk assessment can be found in CIR 03/22.

 

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

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CIR 18/20 | UK withdrawal from the European Union

Communication relayed from the Architects’ Council of Europe

 

The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020.

A Transition Period was agreed, running from 31 January 2020 to 31 December 2020 – during which time, the UK and the EU are negotiating the terms of a Free Trade Agreement which should cover, amongst other things, provisions for mobility and the provision of professional services.

While Directive 2005/36/EC on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) will no longer apply from 1 January 2021, the arrangements currently set out in this Directive continue to apply until the end of the Transition Period – including provisions for automatic recognition, recognition under the general system and temporary or occasional provision of services.

From 1 January 2021

The UK Government has said that

  • EEA/Swiss Architects already registered with ARB will continue to be recognised;
  • EEA/Swiss Architects practising under temporary and occasional status will be able to continue to do so until the expiry of such status, with no option to renew;
  • EEA/Swiss Architects who have submitted applications to ARB to have their professional qualification recognised before exit day but have not yet received a decision will have their application considered/concluded under the Directive procedure as far as possible (within the deadlines set out in the UK Architects Act 1997).

The EU Commission has also stated that decisions on the recognition of UK qualifications in EU Member States before 1 January 2021 are not affected[1].

Therefore, UK architects thinking of registering in one of the 27 EU Member States – and EU27 architects thinking of registering in the UK – are advised to initiate the procedure before 31 December and ideally as soon as possible if they wish to benefit from current arrangements. All those seeking to register in the EU27 or the UK are advised to check national application requirements in the host state and ensure that all relevant documents and certificates are available prior to making an application.

 

Applications submitted after 1 January 2021

  • The UK has indicated that it will retain a system of recognition for EEA and Swiss qualifications at exit day that is similar to the current system.
  • ARB, the UK regulator of architects will continue to recognise EEA/Swiss qualifications that are currently automatically recognised and referred to in point 5.7.1 of Annex V to Directive 2005/36/EC as it has effect on the day the UK exits the EU, provided the applicant has access to the profession in their home state. EEA/Swiss citizenship will not be a requirement for this system of recognition.
  • EEA/Swiss qualifications previously falling in the scope of the General System, and acquired rights nationals, will be required to apply under the third country route to recognition. This includes undertaking ARB’s Prescribed Examinations at Part 1 and Part 2, and the completion of an ARB-prescribed UK Part 3 qualification.
  • Individuals with UK qualifications seeking recognition to offer services in the EEA or Switzerland should check national policies in the host State.

 

Implications for the recognition, in the UK, of holders of EEA/Swiss qualifications

  • For EEA/Swiss professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA/Swiss qualifications) who are already established and have received a recognition decision in the UK, this recognition decision will not be affected and will remain valid.
  • EEA/Swiss professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA/Swiss qualifications) who have not started an application for a recognition decision in the UK before 1 January 2021 will be subject to future arrangements, as detailed above.
  • EEA/Swiss professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA/ Swiss qualifications) who have applied for a recognition decision and are awaiting a decision on 1 January 2021 will, as far as possible, be able to conclude their applications in line with the provisions of the MRPQ Directive.
  • EEA/Swiss Architects practising under temporary and occasional status will be able to continue to do so until the expiry of such status, with no option to renew.

Implications for the recognition, in EU27, of holders of UK qualifications

  • The European Commission’s “Notice to Stakeholders” of 21 June 2018 states that “the withdrawal of the UK does not affect decisions on the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in the UK taken before the withdrawal date on the basis of Directive 2005/36/EC) by an EU-27 Member State.
  • The EC’s Notice to Stakeholders also states that as of the withdrawal date, “UK nationals will be third country nationals and hence Directive 2005/36/EC no longer applies to them”. It follows that:
    – Recognition of professional qualifications of UK nationals in an EU-27 Member State will be governed by national policies and rules of that Member State irrespective of whether the qualifications of the UK national were obtained in the UK, in another third country or in an EU-27 MS;
    – The temporary or occasional provision of services by UK nationals in an EU-27 MS, even if they are already legally established in an EU-27 MS will be governed by the national policies and rules of that MS.

 

For further information please consult

 

Architects’ Council of Europe

 

[1] For recognition procedures that are on-going on withdrawal date, the “Joint report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU: establishes that, in respect of persons covered in that report, these recognition procedures will be completed under Union law (para. 32).

 

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CIR 17/20 | World Architecture Day 2020 – Towards a Better Urban Future

Dear Perit,

Today, the Kamra tal-Periti joins its European and global counterparts in celebrating World Architecture Day, which this year is based on the theme “Towards a Better Urban Future”.

In 1986, the International Union of Architects (UIA) established World Architecture Day to coincide with World Habitat Day, with the aim to draw the attention of professionals and the public to issues concerning cities and housing. This year’s celebration comes amidst the global coronavirus pandemic which has caused us all to make changes to our lifestyles, and has compelled us to question many of our ways, not least our urban environment and the design of our buildings, and how these support and impact our quality of life.

This year’s theme brings to the fore a number of issues that are relevant to our current reality. Most schools will be reopening today, welcoming our younger generations to a new reality which will take some time to adapt to. Many of our elderly are isolated in care homes, while others are left wondering how often they can see and embrace their grandchildren now that these are returning to their school benches. Various offices have resorted to teleworking practices in an effort to contain the spread of the virus and to protect their staff, while other workers who do not have the option to work from home face daily struggles to ensure their own safety and that of their families. All of these activities take place in buildings and urban spaces, designed and created by architects, engineers, and planners, whose responsibility in shaping our future is crucial – for indeed it is a responsibility, and a privilege, to be able to contribute to the future of our country in such a lasting manner.

This Day cannot, therefore, go by without a reflection on how our profession is contributing towards a better urban environment. Are we being of service to society, seeking the common good, or are we serving other masters for more immediate benefits? This brings to mind the seminal Encyclical Laudato Sí, penned by Pope Francis five years ago, where he stated that “If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

How are we going to rise to the challenge to help our communities recover and rebuild? How are we going to ensure that what we design today is adaptable to future realities, while keeping the persons who inhabit our buildings and use our spaces at the centre of our design ethos? Are we ready to safeguard our common home in an effort to ensure the resilience of our future generations?

This is not just a lofty ideal. This is a duty, and a commitment we must all acknowledge.

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 16/20 | Various Updates

Through this Circular, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti would like to bring to your attention a number of matters, as follows:

1. Call for Court Experts

The Courts of Justice are in the process of renewing the list of architects and civil engineers that may be nominated as experts by the Courts. The Kamra tal-Periti invites those periti who are interested in providing their services to submit their details by no later than the 5th October 2020 at this link.

 

2. Periti Warranting Board

As reported by the Kamra on 23rd September 2020, the Electoral Commission notifies that it has duly received 2 (two) nominations from periti interested in sitting on the Periti Warranting Board, namely:

 

Grech Alfred    404054M         6, Triq San Pawl, Attard

Zammit Ivan    120475M         ‘Rivendell’, 81, Triq San Mikiel, Zurrieq

 

All periti are entitled to vote in a secret ballot for not more that one candidate.  Voting will take place on Friday 2nd October 2020, between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm (uninterruptedly) at the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, Blk A – Boardroom, Francesco Buonamici Street, Floriana.

To vote, every perit must present his/her ID Card or another official photo identity document.  The voter must mark a cross (X) in the box on the ballot paper next to the name of not more than one (1) candidate. Counting of votes shall take place immediately upon closure of the poll.

 

3. Legal Notice 374 of 2020 – Amendment to Sanitary Regulations

Through the coming into force of Legal Notice 374 of 2020, the minimum clear internal height of parking levels is now 2.10m.

 

4. Legal Notice 375 of 2020 – Amendment to Regularisation Regulations

Regulation 7 regarding the expiry date and increase in fees for the Regularisation Regulations has been repealed with immediate effect through Legal Notice 375 of 2020. This means that the cut-off date has been removed, and the fees will not be increasing as previously established.

 

5. Notification re membership expiry

A number of periti have received automated messages from our website regarding membership expiry. We are looking into the matter with our IT support. Kindly note that membership ends on 31st December of each year. You can verify the status of your membership by logging into your profile on the website.

The automated email is meant to serve as a reminder to periti to plan for their renewal, as well as to inform them about the 20% discount for those who renew before 31st January. We are working on correcting the automated message and apologise for any inconvenience.

 

6. Premises for rent

The premises of the Malta Federation of Professional Associations (MFPA), of which the Kamra tal-Periti is a member, includes a shop which is currently vacant.

 

The area of the shop is circa 40 sqm.  It comprises one large front room overlooking the main road,  and a second room comprising toilet with shower. This shop is air conditioned. The premises can also be leased as an office/clinic but this can be discussed with the interested party/ parties. The rent for the first 2 years is €15/day.  Rent will increase to €17/day for the following two years and to €20/day for the fifth year.  Agreement  will be for 5 years, with one year notice to end or continue the lease agreement.

Any interested persons are requested to contact the Federation on 99471287 or via email info@mfpa.org.mt.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 15/20 | Breach of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 – Site Technical Officer fraud

It has come to the Kamra’s attention that a person who is not qualified to take on the role of Site Technical Officer has, on a number of occasions, presented himself to Permit Holders as being qualified to take on such role and subsequently signed the Site Responsibility Form, which was then unwittingly uploaded by the periti responsible for the respective projects.

After being alerted to this matter, the Bulding and Construction Agency (BCA) advised such person that this was unacceptable. Said person, however, persisted in trying to defraud the system by presenting Permit Holders with Forms apparently signed by, to our knoweldge, at least two different periti, however it later transpired that such periti had not signed such Forms, and that their signatures had been copied and used without their consent. This latter fraudulent action has been reported to the BCA for the necessary action to be taken.

Periti are reminded that:

  • Only persons who have been authorised by the BCA to provide the service of STO should be indicated on the relevant Forms – the list of registered persons is updated regularly and may be viewed here;
  • According to Legal Notice 136 of 2019, as amended, the Site Technical Officer shall be “nominated by the contractor and shall be accepted by the perit in charge of the project”, and that as part of its discussions with Government, the Kamra had only agreed to the requirement for periti to “accept” the STO as long as a list of registered persons is published and regularly maintained – refer to point 3.1.2 of the Letter of Commitment which Government presented to the Kamra in August 2019, and further elaborated in Ciircular 14/19.

 

In view of this situation, it is recommended that periti go through their active projects and ensure that the appointed STOs are in fact indicated on the STO register, and that such persons are aware of being indicated in this role. In case of any anomalies, periti are requested to immediately inform the BCA, copying the Kamra tal-Periti, for further action.

 

The Council cannot stress enough the importance of adherence to legislation, in view of the serious consequences that may arise in cases of incidents on construction sites.

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 14/20 | COVID-19 Pandemic: Lifting of restrictions // Update 7

By means of Legal Notice 232 of 2020, Government repealed a number of Legal Notices published during the pandemic, including the Protection of Vulnerable Persons Order, 2019.

In view of this, Directive 11/20 regarding Vulnerable Individuals & Site Inspections is hereby repealed.

Although certain restrictions have been released, it is noted that the pandemic has not yet been declared to be over, and therefore certain measures should still be implemented, particularly those relating to social distancing. Reference is here made to Circular 13/20, which presents various recommendations that may be followed as applicable.

Meanwhile, kindly note that the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) has issued a document entitled ‘COVID-19 and your Workplace: FAQs’, which brings together the most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 and workplaces.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 13/20 | COVID-19 Pandemic: Site inspections and site operating procedures // Update 6

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, periti were among one of the first groups of economic operators to adapt their working practices in so far as their offices are concerned. In a survey carried out by the Kamra tal-Periti in the beginning of March, periti reported to have already implemented various social distancing measures, including the cancellation of non-essential meetings and subsequently the introduction of video conferencing, sanitisation of their office environment, and in 56% of cases the introduction of remote working.

While periti have a significant amount of control over their office environment, the same cannot be said for construction sites, and in situations where periti are required to inspect occupied properties for varied reasons.

The following are some practical guidelines to be followed in order to minimise the risks of contraction of  COVID-19. These have been approved by the Health Authorities.

 

Inspections of occupied residential properties

It is recommended that prior to inspecting an occupied residential property, the owner / client / tenant is requested to:

  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property are under mandatory quarantine for any other reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declare that none of the occupants of the property fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – if the latter is not the case, the procedures set out in Circular 11/20 are to be followed.

 

It is also recommended that periti request that, on the date of inspection, the owner / client / tenant ensures that:

  • There is not more than one person present in the property;
  • All doors and windows are opened prior to the inspection to allow full access to the property without needing to touch any surfaces;
  • A distance of 2m is maintained at all times.

 

Inspections of occupied commercial properties

The measures to be applied will depend on the nature of the property in question, its size, density of occupation and also on the purpose of the perit’s inspection. In general, however, it is recommended that prior to inspection the owner / client / tenant is requested to:

  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property have returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property are under mandatory quarantine for any other reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declare that none of the regular occupants of the property fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – in such case the inspection should not be carried out unless the presence of the person concerned is absolutely essential, and then only after having followed the procedures outlined in Circular 11/20.

 

For the purposes of the above, a “regular occupant” is considered to be an owner or employee or consultant or client or service provider or any other person who regularly accesses the property, and who has visited the property during the 15 days prior to the date of inspection.

 

It is also recommended that periti request that, on the date of inspection, the owner / client / tenant ensures that:

  • The number of people present in the property is kept to the bare minimum essential for the inspection to be carried out;
  • All doors and windows are opened prior to the inspection to allow full access to the property without needing to touch any surfaces;
  • A distance of 2m is maintained at all times.

 

Construction site inspections and meetings

In the case of construction sites, it is recommended that declarations similar to the ones outlined above are obtained from the contractor/s with regard to their workforce. These may include:

  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site have returned from overseas during the 20 days prior to the date of inspection;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site have contracted the COVID-19 virus and are meant to be under mandatory quarantine as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel present on site are meant to be under mandatory quarantine for any reason as imposed by the relevant Authorities;
  • Declaration that none of the personnel are aware of having been in contact with a person who has contracted the COVID-19 virus during the 20 days preceeding the date of inspection; and
  • Declaration that none of the personnel fall under any of the categories of vulnerable persons as detailed in Legal Notice 111 of 2020 – in such case the inspection should not be carried out unless the presence of the person concerned is absolutely essential, and then only after having followed the procedures outlined in Circular 11/20.

In the case of sites where regular inspections are carried out, it may not be feasible to require these declarations prior to each and every inspection. It is recommended that the declaration is requested initially, and that the contractor/s is/are requested to inform the perit, the owner and the Project Supervisor immediately upon registering any change to the declarations. Periti may request a declaration at regular intervals, for example once a month.

In addition, it is recommended that:

  • Only personnel who are absolutely necessary for the site inspection to be carried out are present on site at the time of inspection
  • Attendees should maintain a distance of 2m from each other
  • Rooms should be well ventilated and windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
  • Wherever possible, meetings should be held outdoors

 

Construction site operating procedures

It is also important that the welfare of all personnel on sites is catered for at all times. This may be easier to achieve on larger sites, where contractors may be better equipped to provide certain facilities. Nevertheless it is recommended that all contractors are encouraged to implement as many measures as possible on their sites in order to minimise as much as possible the risks of exposure.

The Kamra tal-Periti has prepared a guidance note – Site Operating Procedures | Guidelines for construction sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is based on various recommendations by international organisations, and has also been presented to the local Health Authorities.

It is recommended that periti forward this document to their clients, and to the contractor/s and Project Supervisors appointed on the site which fall under their responsibility, and that these are encouraged to implement these measures for the safety of all.

 

 

General measures

In addition to the above, the following guidance documents issued by the local Health Authorities are being referred for your perusal:

 

Furthermore, it is recommended that periti wear community masks while carrying out their duties as outlined above, in addition to the standard PPE, and that they use sanitiser whenever necessary.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 12/20 | Transposition of EU Directive 2018/844

Two new Legal Notices have been recently published to transpose Directive (EU) 2018/844 on the energy performance of  buildings and on energy efficiency.

 

LN133 of 2020_Energy Efficiency and Cogeneration (Amendment) Regulations, 2020

This Legal Notice obliges the Building Regulation Board to issue a long-term strategy for mobilising investment in the renovation of buildings, and to update such strategy every three years.

 

LN134 of 2020_Energy Performance of Buildings (Amendment) Regulations, 2020

This Legal Notice amends the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations to bring them in line with Directive (EU) 2018/844. There are a number of changes that relate mainly to building engineering services, and it is recommended that you advise your clients and their consulting services engineers of the contents of these new regulations in so far as they are applicable to your projects.

It also obliges the Building Regulation Board to “establish a long-term renovation strategy to support the renovation of the national stock of residential and non-residential buildings, both public and private, into a highly energy efficient and decarbonised building stock by 2050, facilitating the cost-effective transformation of existing buildings into nearly zero-energy buildings.” Furthermore it obliges the Building Regulation Office to undertake various provisions for financial assistance to improve energy performance of buildings and to establish regular inspections of heating and air-conditioning systems.

 

 

Two new Regulations of particular relevance to periti are Regulation 5(5) and Regulation 5(10) which stipulate that:

 

5(5) “New non-residential buildings and non-residential buildings undergoing major renovation, with more than ten parking spaces, shall be installed with at least one recharging point within the meaning of Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council and ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric cables, for at least one in every five parking spaces to enable the installation at a later stage of recharging points for electric vehicles where:

(a) the car park is located inside the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the building; or

(b) the car park is physically adjacent to the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.”

 

5(10) “New residential buildings and residential buildings undergoing major renovation, with more than ten parking spaces, shall be installed with ducting infrastructure, namely conduits for electric  cables, for every parking space to enable the installation, at a later stage, of recharging points for electric vehicles, where:

(a) the car park is located inside the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electric infrastructure of the building; or

(b) the car park is physically adjacent to the building, and, for major renovations, renovation measures include the car park or the electrical infrastructure of the car park.”

 

Although the Legal Notice gives power to the Minister to exempt certain types of buildings, no such exemptions have as yet been issued, and therefore these Regulations are considered applicable to all situations as outlined above. One of the situations contemplated in the Regulations where the Minister may issue exemptions concerns those building where the relevant applications have been submitted prior to 10 March 2021. The Kamra will be corresponding with the Minister to apply such exemption in order to allow the market to adjust accordingly, however until then the provisions of the regulations must be implemented.

 

Regulation 9 includes an obligation on EPC assessors to “provide information to the owners or tenants of buildings on energy performance certificates, including their purpose and objectives, on cost-effective measures and, where appropriate, financial instruments, to improve the energy performance of the building, and on replacing fossil fuel boilers with more sustainable alternatives.

While trusting that you will peruse the new regulations, please do not hesitate to contact the Kamra tal-Periti through email on buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org should you have any queries.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 10/20 | COVID-19 – We are not Immune // Update 5

This Circular is being issued to update you on a number of actions taken by the Kamra tal-Periti in the past couple of weeks, namely:

 

  1. Survey of the profession
  2. Submission of proposals for a National Strategy for economic measures
  3. Economic measures currently applicable for periti
  4. Safety on construction sites in view of COVID-19

 

Further details on each of these points are outlined below.

 

1. Survey of the profession

 

The outcome of the first two surveys of the profession carried out last month were instrumental in our discussions with Government on the difficulties being experience by periti, as further outlined below. The results of those surveys have been published in our COVID-19 Impact on Periti Bulletin 01 and Bulletin 02.

 

The third round of the survey is now open until Friday 10th April 2020 at noon. Before commencing the survey you will need to have the following information at hand:

  • Number of staff you employ, split by provenance (Maltese, EU, and non-EU) and gender
  • Number of open sites under your direction split by predominant activity (demolition and site clearance, excavation, construction and finishes/services, and the number of those which pose risks of danger and/or damage to third parties if the works are stopped suddenly in the eventuality of a lockdown.
  • Average monthly turnover for 2019, and turnover for January, February and March to date (questions in this section request details in % terms but you will need the raw data to work these out)

Your response is highly important, even if you have already participated in previous rounds, since it will enable us to report trends in the profession to Government. I urge you to dedicate some time to this exercise to ensure that our data will be as representative of the profession as possible.

 

 

 

2. Submission of proposals for a National Strategy for economic measures

 

Over the past three weeks, the Kamra tal-Periti met with four other professional bodies, practically on a daily basis, to discuss how the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their professional activities and those of the significant number of persons working within those professional practices.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti, the Chamber of Advocates, the Dental Association of Malta, the Kunsill Notarili ta’ Malta and the Malta Institute of Accountants share the firm belief that our professions form an integral part of the community we live and practice in, and that we have a duty to contribute our experience and expertise towards a balanced solution to the economic issues being faced by the country as a whole.

 

On Wednesday 1st April 2020, representatives of each of the professional bodies met with Minister Silvio Schembri and presented our proposals for:

  • a National Strategy for economic measures to be considered by Government in addressing the severe economic and social difficulties that have been brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak; and
  • a set of measures aimed at assisting our professions within the context of the national strategy proposed.

 

 

It is evident from the surveys carried out by the professional bodies among their members that, whilst the full extent of the impact going forward is as yet unknown, the immediate impact has been severe and the outlook bleak. If this situation were to be prolonged, it will place self-employed professionals under significant pressure to meet their payment obligations and will place firms under severe pressure with under-utilised human resources to meet their significant salary bills.

In our proposals to Government, we acknowledged that there are economic sectors in the country that can be considered as “higher impact” and that any economic measures of state intervention are to prioritise those sectors; indeed we concurred with the strategy of Government to do so, however cautioned that the professions are not immune to this environment.

 

The six measures proposed to Government specifically for the professions can be found in this presentation.

 

Minister Schembri was receptive to the proposals and indeed he expressed agreement in principle with the submissions made. The issue of debate is really how and when would be the right time to implement them, given that Government had to prioritise other sectors with urgency since the difficulties in those were more pronounced. The Minister also stated that in any event these measures cannot be adopted across the board within professions, and that even within the same profession one would have to make the case that assistance was necessary.

Any scheme that will be in place would need to have sufficient flexibility to enable it to be applied on a case by case basis, taking into account, within each profession, who required the assistance most. Not all periti are in the same boat, and some would require assistance more than others, or indeed before others. In this context he reiterated his agreement in principle with the proposals and directed the professions to make further representations with the Ministers responsible for their respective professions.

In fact, we have written to the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, under whose remit the profession falls, requesting a meeting wherein we shall be stressing the importance of the introduction of these measures to give assurance to our profession that assistance will be available at the right time and in the right measure.

 

 

3. Economic measures currently applicable for periti

 

On Monday 6th April 2020, Minister Schembri confirmed that, as a first step, Government will be extending the possibility of postponement of taxes to those professionals who can genuinely show that they are in difficulty of paying such dues. This was the first of the six proposals submitted by the professional bodies. Further details on this scheme can be accessed below.

The impacts on the construction industry are evident, and a slowdown is clearly taking place. Loss of revenue, and a reduction in new projects coming on line are already being reported, and the situation is expected to decline further in the coming weeks. In other cases, periti who fall within the vulnerable groups as defined by Legal Notice 111 of 2020 will also experience a decline in revenue, and consequently difficulty with paying their employees and expenses.

Accordingly, those periti who have suffered a significant drop in revenue, and who are unable to meet the salary costs of their office, have an arguable case to make, even now, without having to wait for any particular scheme or measure to be announced, to qualify for certain assistance packages that have already been announced. This was made clear during the meeting with Minister Schembri, and any periti in such situations should therefore make their case to Malta Enterprise and apply for support.

We understand that where a reasonable case can be made, Malta Enterprise will give such cases due consideration.  Evidently, each case will be evaluated on its own merits and the relief granted will be a function of proportionality to the difficulties faced by the professional concerned. Various measures may be considered, including reduced working hours, however these would need to be assessed on a case by case basis with Malta Enterprise.

 

Those who apply for relief and assistance are urged to inform the Kamra tal-Periti that they have done so, in order that such cases may be followed up from our end.

 

Meanwhile, kindly note that we shall be communicating with you shortly regarding a Q&A session being planned to address any queries you may have on the above.

 

 

4. Safety on construction sites in view of COVID-19

 

Another major concern at this time is the safety of workers and professionals on construction sites in terms of potential exposure to the virus, as well as the safety of third parties. The recent increase in case numbers is surely not to be ignored. We are scheduled to meet the Authorities later this week, and will inform you accordingly on any measures to be implemented in this respect.

 

 

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for you to keep in touch with us via email on info@kamratalperiti.org, the Periti Discussion Group on Facebook, and Facebook Messenger, and to participate in the regular surveys being carried out.

 

Meanwhile, we will continue focussing all of our attention on ensuring that we pull through the current crisis together.

 

Yours sincerely,

Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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CIR 06/20 | COVID-19 – What is the Kamra doing? // Update 4

I would like to start off by thanking each and every one of you for your constant support and feedback. We understand that many of you are facing very challenging times, and that part of your frustrations are fuelled by the element of uncertainty as to what is to be expected in the near future.

On our part, we have been working incessantly to ensure that the interests of the profession and our clients, and the safety of all those who work on construction sites are safeguarded. Our efforts during the past few days have focussed primarily on three aspects, namely:

  1. Weathering the storm to save businesses and jobs
  2. Planning Commission meetings and processes
  3. Building regulations and construction sites

Below please find a detailed outline of progress achieved to date.

1. Weathering the storm to save businesses and jobs

The Kamra tal-Periti has been having practically daily meetings with the Chamber of Advocates, the Kunsill Notarili ta’ Malta, the Dental Association of Malta, and the Malta Institute of Accountants over the past two weeks. As representatives of these regulated professions we have come together to submit proposals for an economic recovery package to Government, which focuses on all sectors of the economy, including of course our sector as a whole.

The package is based on two main fronts. Firstly, it proposes a phased approach, targeting the immediate period up to July, following which it will focus on the recovery period up to April next year with incisive and tailor-made economic remodelling, and beyond then the measures proposed will be aimed at relaunching businesses to begin thriving again following what will undoubtedly be a downturn in the economy.

The second front is based on the principles of burden-sharing, wherein Government, the business community, employees and the banks come together to collectively take the country forward in a healthy and sustainable manner. In the immediate period, the focus must be on job retention – businesses have invested in their people, who they consider as part of the family and who are tuned in to the ethos of the company, and therefore the focus must be on ensuring that employees are retained on the payroll for as long as possible. Beyond that, it is imperative to ensure that we can weather the storm together, with a focus on the general well-being of all of society.

In order to achieve this, measures must be targeted along two streams, namely facilitating business operations through cost reductions, flexibility in working conditions, cash flow measures, and lending facilities, and on the other hand bolstering the liveability of employees through targeted measures to reduce their cost of living at this critical moment and to ensure that their needs are adequately catered for.

The Chambers and Associations mentioned above presented an initial proposal to Government last Friday, which was followed up with a detailed proposal backed up by market research last Monday. We are currently awaiting notice for a meeting wherein these proposals can be presented to Government in detail.

While at this point we cannot provide further detail, nor can we give any guarantees, we assure you that we are doing everything within our power to ensure that our representations are heeded. On this point, the Council thanks you for participating in the surveys that have been sent out, since these allow us to keep tabs on the situation and to reinforce our discussions with Government.

We hope to be able to update you on this matter in the coming days.

2. Planning Commission meetings and processes

As already outlined in Circular 05/2020, Planning Commission hearings were cancelled last week following recommendations by the Superintendent of Public Health to exercise social distancing and cancel non-essential meetings. The Authority, however, intends to proceed with Board and Commission hearings.

In view of this, Council submitted a protocol to be followed for the resumption of hearings, including the use of videoconferencing technology, which will ensure this can be done without exposing periti and their clients. We are confident that our proposals will be taken on board, and reiterate our commitment to ensure that the processes to be adopted will be implemented smoothly and efficiently, and that the health and safety of all involved is ensured. In addition to this, discussions are also ongoing regarding certain planning processes in view of the current situation.

We expect announcements to be made soon in this respect.

3. Building regulations and construction sites

On Wednesday afternoon, a meeting was held with the Building Industry Technical Committee set up by the Prime Minister. The public consultation document A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta prepared by the Kamra tal-Periti and endorsed by its Extraordinary General Meeting of 2019, and which was also endorsed by all the main stakeholders in the industry following a consultation process carried out by the Council, was presented to the Committee in detail. We understand that the Committee is meeting with other stakeholders and will be making its recommendations to the Prime Minister shortly.

The Council has also presented to Government its proposals with regard to construction sites in view of the current coronavirus crisis. The concerns raised are focussed on the processes that need to be in place in the eventual possibility of a lockdown, and also the safety precautions to be taken on construction sites and inspections of properties specifically for periti in the interim period. A meeting has been requested with the Building and Construction Agency, the Planning Authority and the Superintendent of Public Health. Again, we will update you accordingly once a position is agreed to.

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is for you to keep in touch with us via email on info@kamratalperiti.org, Facebook Messenger, and the Periti Discussion Group on Facebook.

Meanwhile, we will continue focussing all of our attention on ensuring that we pull through the current crisis together.

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

Video: Eric Bartolo