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The Shift News and Ethics

The Shift News has today published a news article on its web portal which heavily editorialises and distorts a reply sent to its editor, Caroline Muscat.

 

The full email is being published below for the record.

 

 

Dear Caroline,

 

In reply to your specific question, the first provision in the Code of Professional Conduct stipulates that “[a] member [of the profession] must not hold, assume or consciously accept a position in which his interest is in conflict with his professional duty”. This is common in deontological codes in most professions locally and abroad. The emphasis is on avoiding conflicts between professional duty and personal interests.

 

Such a conflict would arise when a professional could stand to gain personally from delivering a particular service in such a way that it undermines the client’s interests. It follows, therefore, that a perit delivering a professional service to himself cannot have a conflict of interest precisely because the interests are aligned.

 

It is pertinent to note that we are not aware of any European or North American states where an architect is prohibited from working on his own projects. You may wish to peruse a number of projects linked below where this was done successfully:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzina_Vincenti

https://www.dezeen.com/2022/01/29/architect-designers-homes-interiors-lookbooks/

https://www.ft.com/content/cfe85654-5d31-11e9-9dde-7aedca0a081a

 

 

Professional duty is not, however, limited to safeguarding the client’s interests. It also encompasses exercising the profession diligently, in line with established codes of ethics, codes of practice, standards and the law.

 

Regards,

 

Andre

 

This is indeed not the first time this news outlet has misrepresented the Kamra or a member of the profession. On 13th June 2022, Shift News published a story claiming that “[s]ources close to the agency told The Shift that despite the intense unofficial lobbying, particularly by NGOs and elements of the Chamber of Architects not to re-appoint Portelli’s architect as chair of the regulator…“. This is a categorically false statement. Despite a Right of Reply request being sent, Ms Muscat decided not to publish it.

More recently, The Shift News falsely reported that Perit Yanica Zammit was the architect in charge of the FTS school in Msida. On this occasion, after apparently insisted attempts by the maligned perit, the right of reply was eventually published.

 

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PR 01/22 | The 74th General Meeting of the European Council of Civil Engineers convenes in Malta to discuss the challenges of Climate Change

Verżjoni bil-Malti

The 74th General Meeting of the European Council of Civil Engineers convened in Malta this morning. This was the first time this prestigious European federation convened in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The event was organised with the support of the Ministry for Public Works and Planning.

 

 

 

Opening the general meeting, the ECCE President Engineer Andreas Brandner stated that the COVID and the war in Ukraine have caused serious disruptions to the production and shipping of materials across Europe resulting in significant inflation.

 

Brandner also remarked that the effects of the failure to maintain and upgrade critical European infrastructure, including water, transport and sewage systems, to cut public expenditure is becoming increasingly apparent. The measures that many European governments are now adopting, driven mainly by lobby groups, are resulting in an exorbitant waste of public funds. The ECCE president called for a more holistic approach in this regard.

 

 

Andre Pizzuto, President of the Kamra tal-Periti and host of the four-day event, spoke of the critical role of built environment professionals, and in particular civil engineers in addressing the climate emergency. Pizzuto remarked that “during these past two years, as members of society became more sharply aware of the vulnerability of humanity on this earth, the impetus to address the impending climate emergency gained renewed urgency.”

 

Pizzuto referred to research publications pointing to the fact that “Malta’s energy demand over the next thirty years is projected to grow significantly, as its population continues to also grow at a fast pace. By the end of this decade, buildings will account for over 50% of the energy demand. A further 30% will be consumed for transportation.”

 

“The dominance of cars in Malta, with 6 cars for every 5 inhabitants, further exacerbates the unsustainable energy demand in our country,” he warned.

 

The KTP President called on the European Commission and national governments across Europe to strengthen the engineering profession by affording it the recognition it merits and providing the necessary legislative and regulatory infrastructure for engineers to meet the challenges posed by the climate emergency in a safe and sustainable manner.

 

“Nobody in their right mind would have considered liberalising and lowering standards in the regulation of health professionals during the peak of the health crisis we have just been through. Then why does the Commission think it is appropriate to continue advancing the notion that dropping standards in engineering is appropriate in the midst of this environmental emergency?” he asked.

 

 

In his opening address, Minister for Public Works and Planning, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the Government, mindful of the challenges affecting the construction sector, mainly where human resource management is concerned, will be introducing new laws aimed at improving regulations in the field including those on the licensing of contractors and improving the skills of all workers in the sector. Once adopted, these laws will boost the quality and standards of the construction industry. The Minister added that it is also vital that a safe development process is also energy efficient and considers the needs of the public, particularly the end consumers. He stated that it is time for the Civil Engineers’ profession to take a more leading role in the planning and design processes. They need also to contribute towards helping the country to reach its net-zero target and climate action programmes. Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that a healthy community in a resilient economy will look at these disruptions as an opportunity for change, a change for the better.

 

 

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CIR 07/22 | BCA Clearances

Following the EGM held on Thursday 26th May 2022, the Minister for Public Works and Planning was informed of the approved motion and has agreed to instruct the BCA to suspend the coming into force of the Guidelines it had circulated at the Informative Session last Monday.

Periti are thus required to follow the procedures outlined in the BCA Guidance Note dated 17th March 2022, namely:

  1. To not file anything to the BCA when there are no works;
  2. To submit regulation 4 declarations when works fall outside the scope of S.L. 623.06
    (LN 136 of 2019, as amended); i.e., no third-party structures are affected.
  3. To submit regulation 26 declarations when works are of a minor scale and/or the potential risk of the works is limited to minor, superficial damages;
  4. To submit written requests for regulation 25 waivers signed by the beneficiaries of such waivers when appropriate, namely:
    1. Contractors:
      1. Appointing an STO
      2. Partial or full method statement
    2. Developers:
      1. Condition Reports

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

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CIR 06/22 | BCA guidelines for the processing of applications

Further to the BCA “Informative Session” (sic) held yesterday, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti hereby notifies members of the profession that contrary to statements made by BCA management, the Council was never consulted about the Guidelines published and circulated on the day, even less so agreed to their contents.

Indeed, the Council disagrees with the processes contained within this new document, which it read for the first time yesterday evening, on several grounds. In particular, the Council notes the fact that the guideline further exacerbates the BCA’s misinterpretation of the provisions of S.L.623.06 (L.N. 136 of 2019, as amended).

The Council shall be elaborating further during the Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on 26th May 2022 at 4pm at the Catholic Institute, Floriana.

 

Perit André Pizzuto
President

 

Courts Registrar extends call for Periti to serve on Land Arbitration Board until 15th May 2022

The Court Services Agency has asked the Kamra to extend the deadline for periti with at least seven years’ practice to submit their nominations to serve on the Land Arbitration Board.

The term of office is of five years and may be renewed for further periods.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti is hereby notifying all interested members of the profession to submit their nomination through the registration form below.

The new extended deadline for the submission of nominations is 15th May, 2022 at 5pm.

Periti who have already submitted their nomination, need not reapply.

    Please prove you are human by selecting the Plane.

     

     

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    CIR 05/22 | Water Services Corporation Online Portal – Update

    Following the publication of Circular CIR 02/22, the Council has had a meeting with the Water Services Corporation to discuss to iron out the liability and security issues present in its online portal.

    With satisfaction, we wish to inform members of the profession that the portal was redesigned and is now live.

    CIR 02/22 is thus hereby repealed.

    Periti may wish to proceed with the submission of WSC clearance requests using the newly redesigned portal.

    We take this opportunity to thank the WSC management and technical staff for their swift action.

     

    Perit André Pizzuto
    President

     

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    CIR 03/22 | Project Risk Assessment

    Further to Section 4 of Circular 01/2022 published on 21st March 2022, the Council is herewith publishing guidance on the preparation of risk assessment reports in support of waiver requests, or to be forwarded to the contractor for the preparation of method statements.

    This guidance reorganises the contents of the schedules in Subsidiary Legislation 623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended) such that documentation is drawn up in full compliance with current regulations while ensuring the positions of conflict are avoided.

    Once discussions on the overhaul of S.L. 623.06 (LN 136 of 2019, as amended) are concluded and brought into force, it has been agreed with the BCA that the Kamra shall be issuing revised guidance on risk assessment which would not be strictly bound by the aforementioned schedules.

     

     

    Guidance on
    Project Risk Assessment

     

    A comprehensive project risk assessment, drawn up by the perit responsible for the design and specification of engineering works, should include:

     

    1. The identification of the risks involved, after taking account of the structural condition of the construction itself and contiguous buildings, including:

     

    1.1 Description of the structure system used for floors (e.g reinforced concrete slabs, stone slabs on timber beams, concrete frame, etc).

    1.2 Description of the structure system used for transmitting vertical load (e.g. masonry walls, concrete columns, foundations, etc).

    1.3 Sketch plan of each contiguous building.

     

     

    2. Where additional construction over an existing building or part thereof is to take place:

     

    2.1Checks showing that any existing floors are capable of sustaining the additional load being imposed by the new construction these should include:

    a) an estimate of existing and proposed loads in every floor, and a declaration that the structural elements of each individual floor are capable of sustaining the additional loads when checked in accordance with established codes of practice;

    b) a description of any additional reinforcement work that may be necessary in each floor.

     

    2.2 Checks showing that the foundations of the building are capable of sustaining any additional loads placed over the existing storeys. These should include:

     

    a) an estimate of the existing and proposed loads at foundation level;

    b) information about the nature of the foundations of the building, including type and dimensions, or where this is not available, a statement about the design assumptions in accordance with codes of practice;

    c) information on the nature of the ground, supported by the respective ground investigation reports that shall be attached to the works specifications.

     

     

    3. Where excavation is to take place:

     

    3.1 A description of the loads acting on the ground within the excavation affected zone, including:

    a) Clear identification of the structural system of the building, within this zone, describing how load is transmitted to the

    b) An estimate of the load reaching foundation level, in kN/m or

    c) Identification of the type and dimensions of foundations within this

    d) An estimate of the bearing pressure at foundation level in kN/m² in the case of strip footings, pad footings and raft

     

    3.2 A description of the excavation affected zone, explained schematically inclusive of a dimensioned plan that includes the following:

    a) the limits of excavation;

    b) the depth of each part of the excavation;

    c) the affected zone of the excavation, shown shaded and dimensioned;

    d) the properties and buildings belonging to third parties that fall within the affected zone of the

     

    3.3 A description of the ground conditions. This should include the following:

    a) identification of ground materials through the geological map of the Maltese Islands;

     

    b) (i) information from any ground investigation reports that fall within the immediate surroundings, specifically within the affected zone; OR

    (ii) information from other periti who have built or supervised excavation in the immediate surroundings, after having obtained the necessary consent to use this information; OR

    (iii) information from a ground investigation that would need to be commissioned for the proposed project. This investigation shall be carried out from within the site that is to be excavated. In the case of excavations not exceeding 2m in depth, such information may be obtained from trial pits, whereas borehole drilling with full recovery shall be required for all other proposed excavation depths. If agreement is reached with the neighbouring third parties within the affected zone, boreholes shall be drilled, inclined, from within the site that is to be excavated, into the ground beneath the neighbouring third party properties.

     

    3.4 Identification of the risks involved in carrying out the excavation, taking into account the expected strength of the ground materials, the presence or otherwise of fissures, and the loads within the affected

     

    4. Additional Recommendations:

     

    Moreover, the perit responsible for the design and specification of engineering works shall also include in the Project Risk Assessment requirements regarding the content of the method statement/s, including:

     

    4.1 Any recommendations the perit deems necessary regarding the sequence of works to be undertaken on the basis of the risk assessment.

    Provided that in the case of excavation, this should include:

    a) where the excavation is to be started from;

    b) any phasing required to achieve the required rock buttressing;

    c) the levels that should be attained in each stage of the

    d) Subject to the provisions of the Civil Code (Cap. 16.), where underpinning is to be undertaken, full details of how the underpinning works are to be executed, supported by scaled plans, sections and detailed drawings. A description of how the underpinning works are to be phased in relation to other excavation work needs to be

     

    4.2 Any project-specific measures the perit deems necessary to safeguard the stability of the works being undertaken, the stability of contiguous structures or terrain as the case may be;

     

    4.3 The precautions and safeguards to be adopted, including:

    a) against instability of the structure;

    b) for parts thereof being demolished or altered;

    c) for any contiguous structures;

    d) any monitoring readings that are required to be undertaken during demolition and excavation, describing where, how and what is to be measured and what results are to be tolerated prior to taking ulterior

     

    Perit André Pizzuto
    President

     

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    CIR 02/22 | Water Services Corporation Online Portal

     

    The Council has been informed that the Water Services Corporation has launched an online portal to deal with requests for clearance in relation to permit conditions. Such clearances would be used to support requests for compliance certificates from the Planning Authority.

    The portal, which makes use of the e-ID login, requests from periti the uploading of a standalone scanned copy of the permit perit’s signature and that of another perit or warranted engineer, where applicable.

    This is clearly unacceptable for several reasons which require little to no explaining to those who possess a basic understanding of the liability and security risk implications such a system poses.

    Periti are hereby advised not to utilise this portal, until it is redesigned to eliminate such risk implications.

     

    Perit André Pizzuto
    President

     

    Courts Registrar issues call for Periti to serve on Land Arbitration Board

    The Court Services Agency notifies that it is accepted nominations for periti with at least seven years’ practice to serve on the Land Arbitration Board.

    The term of office is of five years and may be renewed for further periods..

     

    The Kamra tal-Periti is hereby notifying all interested members of the profession to submit their nomination through the registration form below.

    Deadline for the submission of nominations is 13th April, 2022 at 5pm.

      Please prove you are human by selecting the Flag.

       

       

      Courts Registrar reissues call for Periti to serve on RRB and RLCB for 2022 – 2024

      The Court Services Agency has requested the Kamra tal-Periti to reissue the call for periti interested to be added to the list of periti serving on the panel on the Rent Regulation Board (RRB) and/or that of the Rural Leases Control Board (RLB).

      Only Periti with at least seven years’ practice will be considered. The term of office is for two years, and may be renewed for further periods.

       

      Perit who had already submitted their nominations in the previous call of 25th November 2021 will be retained in the list.

       

      The Kamra tal-Periti is hereby notifying all interested members of the profession to submit their nomination through the registration form below.

      Deadline for the submission of nominations is 10th April, 2022 at 10pm.


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