Into the Light II:

The Enforcement Review Committee

By Darcie H. Greggs, P.Geol., Chair,
Enforcement Review Committee

This is the second column on the Enforcement Review Committee. The first column covered the Who, What and How of the Committee, and this column will focus on further steps in the handling of a complaint and will also outline the outstanding arrest warrants that have arisen from two cases.

How (cont.): Once the complaint of a practice or title violation has been made, the next step is to determine if a violation is actually occurring i.e. is the individual or corporation practicing engineering, geology or geophysics? For practice violations, we need a very careful determination of the actual work being carried out. For instance, an engineer who designs nuclear installations clearly falls under the EGGP Act. A geologist working for Glow-in-the-Dark Energy turns out to be marketing for an energy-based mutual fund company _ which does not fall under the Act.

Title violations can be more straightforward. The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers holds the copyright for the titles "engineer" and "engineering". The EGGP Act provides for the exclusive right-to-title for engineers, geologists and geophysicists. Basically translated, thou shalt not confer upon thyself any of these titles without being registered. Similarly, corporations must have a Permit to Practice to use these names or variations on the theme. Not uncommonly, complaints that start as title violations end up as practice violations as well.

If the complaint is deemed to be valid, offenders have two choices to avoid legal proceedings: for practice violations, they must stop the conduct or register if qualified. For title violations, they must register or change the offending title or corporate name. If the offender chooses not to respond to "gentle persuasion", which starts with nice letters and leads into not-so-nice letters, APEGGA has a number of options depending on the specifics of the case. For practice violations, we can seek an injunction to stop the offending condition; this is a civil court proceeding and not undertaken lightly. For title violations, we can seek a name change (involuntary) through Corporate Registry or initiate a trademark infringement action through CCPE. In more serious cases, usually where fraud is involved, we can lay a complaint through the commercial crime unit of the police service in that jurisdiction and seek prosecution. Once this route is taken, further action is in the hands of the Crown Prosecutor's office and APEGGA's only responsibility at that point is to co-operate with the detectives involved.

Arrest Warrants: two of the ERC's cases in recent years did end up being turned over to the Calgary Police Service Commercial Crimes Unit. In totally separate cases, both involved individuals who not only claimed to be professional engineers, but worked away stamping plans and documents (for several years in one case). Neither was registered and neither was qualified. Currently, there are warrants out for the arrest of these two individuals on charges of uttering forged documents.

Next Month : More on Fraud.