Authority and Jurisdiction
The Professional Governance Act gives Engineers and Geoscientists BC the authority and duty to regulate the practice of professional engineering and professional geoscience in British Columbia.
In order to carry out its mandate, Engineers and Geoscientists BC can investigate any situation where the information indicates that a registrant or a registrant firm has not met their professional and ethical obligations as set out in the Professional Governance Act, the Bylaws, and the Code of Ethics (Schedule A of the Bylaws).
Our jurisdiction is the professional practice and conduct of registrants of Engineers and Geoscientists BC. We cannot investigate issues that fall outside of our jurisdiction. In these situations, Engineers and Geoscientists BC may refer the issue to the appropriate regulator or authority, or direct the complainant to relevant resources to pursue other remedies for their concerns.
Confidentiality, Transparency, Impartiality
The Engineers and Geoscientists BC investigation and discipline process is transparent, objective, impartial, and fair. The members of the Investigation Committee, the Discipline Committee, as well as staff at Engineers and Geoscientists BC must exercise their duties and responsibilities in an objective manner and are required to withdraw themselves from any investigation or discipline file where a conflict of interest could compromise their impartiality or objectivity. Learn more about our Policy on Avoiding Bias and Conflict of Interest in the Investigation and Discipline Process.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC is required to keep investigations confidential (except where public duty requires disclosure of information or where disclosure of certain information is permitted by the Professional Governance Act or privacy legislation). The complainant and the registrant subject to the complaint are informed of the status of the complaint at regular intervals throughout the process.
Once an investigation has concluded, and if disciplinary action is recommended, relevant discipline documents are published on the Discipline Hearings and Notices page.
In the event that the file is closed without any resulting consent agreement or discipline proceedings, the reasons for closure will only be communicated to the complainant and the registrant subject to the complaint.
Complaint, Investigation, and Discipline Process
There are four stages of our investigation and discipline process. Each case file is unique and will progress through the process according to the nature of the allegation(s) and the decision(s) made at each stage based on the available information and evidence.
Stage 1: Complaint Intake
Engineers and Geoscientists BC receives a complaint or otherwise becomes aware of information that indicates a registrant may have breached the expected standards of conduct or professional practice. Complaint Intake Officers review the information and correspond with complainants as required.
If sufficient information indicates there is a valid concern, including clear allegations and supporting materials, a formal complaint file is opened. Complaint Intake Officers conduct a risk-based triage assessment to determine the file’s priority level, which may change as more information is gathered.
Staff may also gather additional information from the complainant, the registrant, other sources such as relevant witnesses or authorities, and technical experts, as required. In most cases, the registrant will be informed of the complaint, provided with the complaint materials, and will be asked to respond to the concerns that have been raised.
Possible outcomes at this stage:
- The complaint file is closed. The Registrar may close a complaint because Engineers and Geoscientists BC does not have jurisdiction over the issue, the allegations do not relate to professional or conduct concerns, or the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith, or there is no public interest to investigate because the allegations relate to a contractual dispute or the substance of the allegations are dealt with in another proceeding.
- The file is referred to Practice Review. The Engineers and Geoscientists BC Audit and Practice Review Committee may conduct practice reviews to address minor practice issues.
- The file is referred to Investigation. The Engineers and Geoscientists BC Investigation Committee has the power to authorize an investigation to gather and assess evidence on the file.
Stage 2: Investigation
Investigations are conducted under the authority of the Investigation Committee. Once an investigation has been authorized, the Investigation Committee appoints Investigator(s) to each file. The Investigators assess the information on file and conduct a risk-based triage assessment to assess the previously assigned priority level and to amend the priority level as warranted.
During the investigation, the registrant is required to cooperate and provide requested information and documents. The Investigators often conduct an interview with the registrant. Other investigative steps may be required, including interviewing witnesses, obtaining an expert opinion from a subject matter expert, conducting site visits, securing materials and documents, and requesting information from public bodies. Investigators take all investigation steps deemed necessary based on the nature of the file and the evidence.
At the conclusion of an investigation, the Investigators present an investigation report to the Investigation Committee along with their recommendation for how to proceed with the file.
Possible outcomes at this stage:
- The file is closed. The results of the investigation indicate disciplinary action is not required. If the Investigation Committee identified minor issues for improvement of the registrant’s conduct or practice, the Investigation Committee may send a letter of recommendation to the registrant.
- A Practice Review is authorized. The Engineers and Geoscientists BC Audit and Practice Review Committee conducts a practice review to address minor professional practice issues.
- A Citation is issued. Citations outline the allegations against the registrant and authorize a discipline hearing.
- Voluntary Resolution. Voluntary resolution may be attempted in place of a discipline hearing (see Stage 3).
Stage 3: Voluntary Resolution
Voluntary resolution, which replaces the need for a discipline hearing, may be achieved through a consent agreement with the registrant.
At the end of an investigation, the Investigation Committee may propose a consent agreement to the registrant as an alternative to issuing a citation and proceeding to a discipline hearing.
Alternatively, a panel of the Discipline Committee may offer a consent agreement to the registrant after a citation has already been issued, but before a discipline hearing.
If a consent agreement has been reached, the discipline hearing is cancelled. If the registrant wishes to have their case heard by a discipline panel, or is not responsive to voluntary resolution, the matter will proceed to a discipline hearing.
Possible outcome at this stage:
- A Consent Agreement is concluded. The registrant signs a consent agreement in which the registrant agrees to certain penalties instead of proceeding to a discipline hearing. The consent agreement is published on the Discipline Hearings & Notices page.
Stage 4: Discipline Hearing
Discipline hearings are conducted by a Discipline Hearing Panel which is comprised of three members of the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Discipline Committee. Legal counsel supports the Discipline Hearing Panel by providing independent legal advice.
Prior to the hearing, Engineers and Geoscientists BC and the registrant, or their legal representative, disclose to one another all evidence to be presented at the hearing. A pre-hearing conference may also be held to resolve any procedural matters or motions. During the hearing, evidence and arguments are presented by both the registrant and Engineers and Geoscientists BC. This can include expert reports, witness testimony, statements from the registrant, documents, and records.
The Discipline Hearing Panel reviews the evidence and determines whether each of the allegations against the registrant have been proven. The panel then issues a decision in which they outline the discipline findings.
Possible outcomes at this stage:
- Some or all allegations against the registrant are proven. The registrant has breached practice and/or conduct standards.
- No allegations against the registrant are proven. The file is closed.
If allegations against a registrant are proven, the Discipline Hearing Panel determines appropriate penalties for the registrant. This may include:
- A reprimand;
- Conditions on the registrant’s practice;
- Remedial action;
- Suspension or cancellation; and/or
- A fine of up to $100,000;
Discipline decisions and penalties are posted on the Discipline Hearings & Notices page.
Disclosure and Extraordinary Action
In situations where information received during the course of an investigation indicates the public may be at risk, Engineers and Geoscientists BC is authorized under its legislation to disclose certain information and/or take “extraordinary action” in order to protect the public.
- At any time after authorizing an investigation, Engineers and Geoscientists BC may disclose information to other regulators, authorities, or the public, if it considers that action is necessary in order to protect the public or if it is clearly in the public interest.
- At any time after authorizing an investigation and prior to a discipline hearing, Engineers and Geoscientists BC may take action to impose limits or conditions on a registrant’s practice, or suspend a registrant, without giving the registrant an opportunity to be heard at a discipline hearing, if it considers that action is necessary in order to protect the public.