Engineering NZ vows to reopen case on CTV Building
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.