Engi­neer­ing NZ vows to re­open case on CTV Build­ing

Bay of Plenty Times - - Nation - Kurt Bayer

A judge has ruled New Zealand’s pro­fes­sional engi­neer­ing body was wrong to drop dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Dr Alan Reay, whose com­pany was re­spon­si­ble for de­sign­ing Christchurch’s CTV Build­ing that col­lapsed in the Fe­bru­ary 2011 earth­quake, killing 115 peo­ple.

A ju­di­cial hear­ing in the High Court at Welling­ton, which was sought by the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral, was held last month to de­ter­mine if Engi­neer­ing New Zealand, for­merly the In­sti­tu­tion of Pro­fes­sional En­gi­neers (Ipenz), should have pur­sued pro­ceed­ings against Reay.

In a judg­ment, Jus­tice David Collins con­cluded Ipenz made an er­ror of law when it de­cided it had no op­tion other than to dis­miss the dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings.

The de­ci­sion means, as a mat­ter of law, Ipenz could con­tinue with dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Reay, which came to a pre­ma­ture end in 2014 when he re­signed his mem­ber­ship of the in­sti­tu­tion.

Fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion, Engi­neer­ing New Zealand has vowed to re­open com­plaints against Reay.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Su­san Free­manGreene says her thoughts are with those who lost loved ones in the CTV Build­ing tragedy.

“We stopped our in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2014 be­cause Dr Reay had re­signed as a mem­ber,” she said .

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the court’s di­rec­tion that our de­ci­sion was wrong. We wel­come the clar­ity the judge has pro­vided.

“[The] de­ci­sion means the com­plaints process will be re­opened. Our first step will be mak­ing con­tact with the peo­ple in­volved,” Free­man-Greene said.

Reay is­sued a me­dia state­ment yes­ter­day af­ter­noon to say he is tak­ing on ad­vice on whether he should ap­peal yes­ter­day’s de­ci­sion to the Court of Ap­peal.

He says he re­signed his Ipenz mem­ber­ship for rea­sons “en­tirely un­re­lated to the com­plaint”.

“Dr Reay has al­ways re­jected the claims in the com­plaint,” the state­ment says. “On four oc­ca­sions he gave ev­i­dence to the CTV in­quiry and called ex­pert ev­i­dence as well. Apart from this com­plaint, all other com­plaints against Dr Reay have been dis­missed, in­clud­ing one by ENZ against his as a Char­tered Pro­fes­sional Engi­neer which wholly failed on its mer­its.

“The CTV build­ing dis­as­ter could have been avoided as the ev­i­dence to the Royal Com­mis­sion showed.

“That tragedy haunts Dr Reay ev­ery day, as it does many oth­ers. He has done ev­ery­thing he per­son­ally can to iden­tify what hap­pened and how we can en­sure that it will not oc­cur again. This has in­cluded fund­ing in­de­pen­dent re­search and in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“How­ever, Dr Reay re­fuses to be scape­goated for this tragedy. Dr Reay will not be is­su­ing any fur­ther com­ment at this time.”

Ear­lier, Jus­tice Collins said it was in the pub­lic in­ter­est to al­low Ipenz to de­ter­mine whether or not it wishes to pro­ceed with a com­plaint against Reay.

“Whilst it would not be pos­si­ble to ex­pel or sus­pend Dr Reay from the In­sti­tu­tion, that is not de­ter­mi­na­tive,” he said.

“There may be valu­able lessons to be learnt from an assess­ment of Dr Reay’s pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in re­la­tion to the col­lapse of the CTV Build­ing that can only be re­solved through a dis­ci­plinary process.”

How­ever, the judge stressed it was up for Ipenz to con­sider whether it goes ahead with the ac­tion.

“This judg­ment is not a di­rec­tion that the dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ing against Dr Reay must con­tinue,” Jus­tice Collins con­cluded.

Reay’s com­pany Alan Reay Con­sul­tants was re­spon­si­ble for de­sign­ing the six-storey Christchurch of­fice block that col­lapsed in the mag­ni­tude-6.3 quake.

A Royal Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into the Can­ter­bury earthquakes crit­i­cised Reay for giv­ing his in­ex­pe­ri­enced struc­tural engi­neer David Hard­ing “sole re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the build­ing’s mid-1980s de­sign.

Pro­fes­sor Maan Alka­isi, whose wife Maysoon Ab­bas was killed, last month ac­cused Ipenz of “the worst ex­am­ple of dou­ble stan­dards” by pun­ish­ing Hard­ing but not tak­ing any ac­tion against Reay.

A to­tal of 115 peo­ple were killed when the CTV Build­ing col­lapsed in the Fe­bru­ary 2011 earth­quake.

Dr Alan Reay’s com­pany de­signed the CTV Build­ing.

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