Lodging a Complaint
A member of the public who is aggrieved by the work of a surveyor should attempt to resolve the issues with the surveyor first. The Citizens Advice Bureau offers services that may be useful in this regard. If the matter is not resolved and that person wishes to lodge a complaint they should contact the Secretary who will provide advice on procedures.
The Board does not generally involve itself with contractual disputes.
Complaints Handling Procedure
All complaints must be in writing – if the first contact is by phone (9273 7104) or email the Secretary shall advise that the complaint must be made in writing and should contain enough information for the Board to make an initial assessment.
- All complaints should be submitted using the online form.
The complainant’s letter will be acknowledged with the information that the Board cannot act on the complaint until it has met and determined if the complaint is within its jurisdiction and not frivolous (lacking a legal basis or legal merit; a matter that has little prospect of success; not serious, not reasonably purposeful). Pending the Board’s determination of those preliminary issues the Secretary should ask the complainant to inform the Board in writing whether the complainant objects to:
The complaint being copied to the surveyor: and/or
His/her identity being disclosed to the surveyor
The Board will then meet and deal with the issues raised in the letter of complaint. If the matter is not within the jurisdiction of the Board or there is no reasonable likelihood the State Administrative Tribunal would find the surveyor guilty of professional misconduct then the complaint will go no further and the complainant will be so informed.
If the Board is satisfied that the complaint is within its jurisdiction and worthy of investigation the Board should then either copy the complaint to the surveyor and request a written response within 21days or reformulate the complaint and send a letter to the surveyor seeking a response within the same period. The Board because of its specialist knowledge may re-cast the complaint to raise fresh issues or to give matters greater significance than the complainant thought appropriate, particularly having regard to Section 22(2) of the Licensed Surveyors Act 1909 (the Act).
The Surveyor cannot be compelled to respond and the Board’s letter to the Surveyor should ask his/her permission to copy the response to the complainant is the Board thinks that is appropriate.
After the Surveyor’s response has been received, or, absent a response, after the expiration of the time limited for response, the Board should meet to determine if there is “proper cause for disciplinary action” as required by section 20B of the Act.
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Licensed Surveyors
If the Board is not satisfied to the degree required and believes further information or inquiry is necessary then it should direct that further information be sought or inquiry made.
When the Board is satisfied that it is possessed of sufficient information to determine whether there is a proper cause for inquiry it should make its decision. If satisfied there should be a resolution of the Board as follows:
The Board resolved that there is proper cause for the disciplinary action against ….”The Surveyor”… and the Board should make such allegation to the State Administrative Tribunal.
If not satisfied the Board should resolve to dismiss the complaint as not disclosing a “proper cause for inquiry”. The complainant and the Surveyor should then be informed of the Board’s decision by letter outlining the reasons for the decision (in certain circumstances the Board may exercise its right to NOT provide reasons)
Prior to the establishment of the State Administrative Tribunal (the Tribunal) on 1 January 2005, a range of regulatory bodies, including the Land Surveyors Licensing Board (the Board), were empowered to licence and discipline the members of occupational or industry groups and professions. This disciplinary function has now transferred to the Tribunal.
The purpose of the Tribunal is to be a ‘one-stop shop’, where matters can be resolved fairly and quickly with minimal formality and cost by tribunal members with appropriate experience and expertise. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction encompasses the review of decisions made by government agencies or public officials, the making of decisions in relation to the care and welfare on some incapacitated people and the resolution of a range of disputes between citizens.
The role and functions of the Board have changed due to the introduction the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 (the SAT Act), and the subsequent amendments to the Act.
The Board now has strengthened powers to initiate and carry out investigations in relation to licensing, compliance with the Act, cause for disciplinary action and offences under the Act.
The punitive powers of the Board have been reduced, such that where it is considers there may be legitimate cause for disciplinary action it must now refer the matter to the Tribunal for adjudication.
The power of the Tribunal to make an order if it has found that proper cause exists for disciplinary action are prescribed in section 21 of the Act.
The Board, when deciding whether or not to lay a complaint alleging breaches of Section 23 of the Act is guided by the prosecution policy published by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Board has therefore adopted the policy that it will lay a complaint where:
There is clear and verifiable evidence of an offence; and
- The offence is not of a trivial or technical nature; and
- The alleged offence has been to the detriment of the public or public order; and
- The likely outcome of the trial would deter further offences: or
- In circumstance where the Board deem it to be in the public interest
In implementing this policy the assessment of the public interest will be affected by the extent of involvement of a licensed surveyor in the process. The Board will generally not proceed with charges if a licensed surveyor has taken the lead role in the survey including:
- Taking instructions from the client
- Advising the client on professional matters relating to those instructions
- Making the decisions on professional matters
- Performing or supervising the survey
- Certifying the survey
The Board reserves the right to decide not to proceed with a complaint if it deems that it would not be in the public interest to do so. A decision not to lay a complaint does not affect any disaffected person from lodging a complaint in their own name.
The Complaints process is illustrated in a flow chart.
Offences by persons other than Licensed Surveyors.
Section 23 of the Act provides for offences against the Act by persons who are not licensed surveyors.
The intent of this Section is to ensure that members of the public and the cadastral system are protected from surveys conducted by unqualified people.
Complaints under this Section are heard by the Courts (not the Board) and may be laid by any citizen.