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Professional Indemnity – Giving back or taking away

Private Certifiers and Surveyors are in trouble. Whether Professional Indemnity insurance (PI) is due for renewal now or in 6 months time, the profession is seen by and large by government and insurance as toxic. The building sector in general see certification as a painful unnecessary step or the person who is holding up the final from being issued. So on those preconceived merits, we face an uphill battle to prove our worth to an industry that is increasingly be beset by faulty building practises, inundated with sub-par building products and systems and subject to a growing attitude of “its not my fault, its their fault”.

Certification is being pinned down by mandatory Professional Indemnity Insurance requirements under Section 52 of the Building Regulation 2006. When private certification was introduced, the idea of Professional Indemnity was to act as a customer protection against a Certifiers failure to perform their duty either by mistake or neglect. Today, our over litigious environment is seeing this mantra turned against the certifiers as legal action intuitively follows the money and mandatory PI insurance is the pot of gold. This ideology is only serving to dilute professional standards of all parties involved in the building process due to relaxed attitudes towards their own professional liabilities. This is further being reinforced by soft legislation that barley pushes the requirement to have suitable PI insurance outside of the private certifier function, let alone making a mandatory requirement to operate or have a license. What does this mean in the end? Owners are not being provided with an adequate measures of consumer protection against failure of building work and process as the legislation in force intends. Governments don’t appear to have the answers so allow the status quo to cruel certifiers with lack of affirmative action while insurer use or mandatory PI requirements to claw back claim loses which may not be as a whole the fault of certifiers in the first instance.

The Building Certification profession and the building industry in general has well and truly entered the rabbit hole and there’s only one way out and that its through. Without immediate intervention, the continuing pressures we’re facing will mount and something will give. The question now stands, what will be left of an industry that for over 20 years has provided a proud service to the built environment that’s often under recognised and under appreciated. What will the built environment morph into where the timely mechanisms that private certification affords is allowed to be degraded to a point of non function, controlled by a selected few or worse disbanded all together. Will the new world of statutory compliance be to the liking of the builders, home owners and developers alike, or will they look back at a time when private certification was in their corner and ponder what was lost.

Like any complex natural environment, the building industry is just as complex. The moment one element is degraded or lost, that environment as a whole will start to suffer and fail. Private Certifiers and Surveyors are in trouble, and be assured, our ailing profession is clearly pointing out that the built environment pond is looking decisively unhealthier by the minute.

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