Tue | Sep 25, 2018

When land surveyor and clients clash

Published:Sunday | October 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Good day, readers. This week, we have a guest columnist. He is a very experienced commissioned land surveyor and a past president of the Land Surveyors Association of Jamaica (LSAJ). He is Ainsworth Dick, and today he looks at dispute resolution between the commissioned land surveyor and his clients.

Even with the most explicit instructions from the land surveyor's client and the most technically correct work and consciousness on the part of the land surveyor, disputes could arise. These disputes usually arise due to schedule of payment of fees, and delivery time for the end product (e.g. plan).

Even with the most carefully worded contract, which can minimise these disputes, they will still arise from time to time.

Although these disputes can be settled in the courts, this solution should be the last resort, because of the length of time and high cost of acquiring this remedy. Even utilising the Dispute Resolution section of the Supreme Court can be challenging.

The director of surveys and mapping of the National Land Agency (NLA) is empowered by law to adjudicate on disputes between clients and surveyors. However, his workload in the department, and the fact that he is also the chairman of the Land Surveyors Board, limits the number of types of dispute he can adjudicate on. Also, any party who is still not satisfied with the decision of the director can seek remedy in the courts.

In an effort to have disputes between the commissioned land surveyor and his clients resolved in a timely and satisfactory manner, the LSAJ, more than 40 years ago, instituted a Grievance and Complaints Committee to assist in dispute resolution.

This committee is chaired by a member of the council of the LSAJ and consists of between five and eight experienced members of the LSAJ.

Complaints against surveyors can be sent to the headquarters of the LSAJ at Suite 9A, The Trade Centre, 32 Red Hills, Kingston 10.

When a complaint against a surveyor is received, the surveyor is written to requesting an explanation. If the explanation given is acceptable or the committee finds that the complaint is unfounded, the complainant is advised of the conclusion of the committee.

However, if the explanation is not acceptable, a meeting with the surveyor and complainant is usually arranged to see if an amicable resolution can be brokered. When this is not possible, the committee usually advise the complainant what other recourse is available to them.

Sometimes when the best efforts of the committee is unfruitful because of non-response from the surveyor, the members of the committee will have to decide whether the action or inaction of the surveyors falls in the category of professional misconduct, professional negligence or actions unbecoming a surveyor. If this is the case, the committee may bring charges against the surveyor to the Land Surveyors Disciplinary Committee (LSDC).

The LSDC is enshrined in the Land Surveyors Act and consists of five members of the LSAJ. These members are appointed by the relevant minister of government on the recommendation of the LSAJ and serve for a three-year term.

Under the Land Surveyors (Amendment) Act 2005, the LSDC has wide powers of investigation and can summon the surveyor and complainant, or any other party which it believes can assist in the probing of charges against a surveyor.

After perusal of all facts, the LSDC recommends the punishment that should handed out to the surveyor, and its findings are sent to the Land Surveyors Board for a decision. The punishment can vary from a reprimand to withholding the Surveyors Practicing Certificate for varying periods.

Because of the seriousness of the recommendations that the LSDC can hand down, this should be the last body that matters are referred to.

Keep sending your questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter Land. Until next time, traverse well.

Ainsworth Dick, Past president, LSAJ

Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at craig_r_francis@yahoo.com or his Facebook page Precision Surveying Services