More from Alastair Thompson on conduct rules, ethics and professional practice

This article focuses on the mandatory competency associated with ethics and the RICS code of conduct – Conduct Rules, Ethics and Professional Practice (M005). This needs to be read in conjunction with my previous article on Conduct Rule, Ethics and Professional Practice (see link below), which dealt with a number of potential questions that may arise. This article looks at further issues that may crop up within this competency. As we have identified previously, the competency covers a wide range of issues associated with how you should conduct yourself as a chartered surveyor, and a candidate is required to have a detailed knowledge of this competency to level 3.

This competency covers issues that quantity surveyors deal with regularly and therefore you will be expected to understand and respond in detail.

Level 1

Competency at Level 1 includes ‘demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the role and significance of RICS and its functions. Also an appreciation of your personal professional role and society’s expectations of professional practice and RICS code of conduct and conduct regulations, including the general principals of law and the legal system, as applicable in your country of practice’.

Prior to undertaking the APC assessment you must read and become familiar with the RICS code of conduct and rules and regulations.

Question What sort of Professional Development have you done during your training period?

Answer You must be familiar with the RICS requirements in relation to PQSL, which is something you should have addressed in your APC final submission pack. For each 12 months structured training you must undertake a minimum of 48 hrs professional development (categories are Personal skills, technical skills and professional practice skills). Be familiar with what you have previously written, and be prepared to elaborate on some of your comments.

For example often PQSL consists of:

• In house training courses

• External training courses

• Personal reading of relevant articles

• Private study

• Seminars

Discuss a couple of relevant topics that you have recently studied and briefly talk about them. Cover the format of the learning process, the key issues, and what you have got out of the process. If possible relate it to a project related issue.

Try to get a variety of different types of PQSL as this shows that you are actively seeking PQSL.

Question You may also be asked a follow up question relating to training once you have become Chartered.

Answer You need to be familiar with the term CPD – Continued Professional Development and the RICS requirements in relation to CPD. You will have an obligation to achieve a minimum of 60 hours CPD for every three years with at least 10hrs per year. In addition the RICS require you to keep a formal record of what CPD activities you have undertaken. You should also be aware of how this is completed, namely online, and the requirements for submission to the RICS.

Level 2

Competency at level 2 involves ‘Provide evidence of practical application in your area of practice, being able to justify actions at all times and demonstrate personal commitment to the rules of conduct, ethics and RICS nine core values’.

As stated in previous articles this means demonstrating a working knowledge.

Question Assuming you were successful in getting Chartered, how would you deal with a situation such as a friend who asks you to provide them with QS advice for a house extension that they are about to undertake.

Answer Specifically here you need to be aware that because you are a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, you are expected to act in accordance with the RICS rules and regulations regardless of who you work for. You will therefore need to show an understanding of a couple of things:

Firstly, you cannot operate as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor without Professional Indemnity Insurance. You would not be able to provide advice and pout your name to it unless you held the appropriate level of PII cover.

Secondly, you still need to make sure that any advice you provide goes through the necessary and relevant checks and balances prior to it being issued. Just because it is for a friend, it does not mean that an appropriate checking process can be bypassed.

Question There is often a follow up question to this along the lines of – how would this change if you did the work in your own time (i.e. as a private commission outside of work), there was no formal contact and your friend does not pay you for the services provided?

Answer The answer here is that nothing changes!

Regardless of whether you are paid for the work, whether there is a formal contract of employment, and regardless of whether you do the work as a favour to a friend outside of your normal workplace you are still acting as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, and putting your name to some professional advice. Thus you are still governed by the same rules and regulations imposed by the RICS.

Level 3

Competency at level 3 involves ‘Provide evidence of application of the above in your area of practice in the context of advising clients’.

Here you should be able to apply your knowledge to practical situations that you have encountered in your working life.

Question On the theme of Professional Indemnity Insurance, are you familiar with the term limit of liability and where it would be used?

Answer Limit of liability is generally used to cap or place a limit on the level of exposure a business signs up to in a formal contract. For example often in a contract to provide Quantity Surveying services, there is a requirement to provide Professional Indemnity Insurance at a specified level. This level may be £5million. However the wording of the clause is important here. If you are being asked to provide £5million in aggregate, then effectively you are providing £5million PII cover – once this figure is exceeded in terms of claims against a company’s policy then nothing further is paid. However, if you are being asked to provide £5million each and every claim, then effectively you are providing £5million PII cover for each claim made. As you have not idea how many individual claims could be made then there is an argument to say you are providing unlimited PII cover.

As a result of this companies often try to negotiate the inclusion of a limit of liability clause into their contracts. This would effectively limit their exposure to whatever the limit of liability was set at. Clients often don’t like this concept, however it does make business sense to try to limit exposure to something that is reasonable for both parties and manageable by both parties.

Question Again, the follow up question to this could be how would a net contribution clause affect this?

Answer A net contribution clause can be negotiated either in conjunction with the limit of liability of completely separately.

A net contribution clause seeks to ensure that the consultant’s liability is only for the work he is carrying out and affecting. Thus a net contribution clause means that the consultant will only be held liable for work he has done or influenced, and cannot be held liable for someone else’s mistakes.

The key issue to remember with this subject is read and be familiar with the RICS rules and regulations and codes of conduct