Article Business Practice Executive

UK Registration of Ground Engineering Professionals (RoGEP)

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In June 2011, a new initiative for ground engineers was launched in the United Kingdom, after nearly ten years of discussions between the professional institutions and trade organisations within the UK ground engineering industry. Unlike the US and other countries, the UK does not have a professional engineer licensing regime, and the title “engineer” is not protected by legislation. However, professional engineers can achieve “chartered status” through their professional institution and the Engineering Council, which is recognised worldwide.

The key drivers for this initiative were the recognised need from client bodies in the UK to help them to appoint competent engineers, those who are appropriately qualified, skilled and experienced chartered ground engineers. To fulfil these needs, the three most prominent professional bodies, the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Geological Society of London, and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)- which incorporate ground engineering and represent this aspect of the profession in the United Kingdom- together with the Ground Forum, have finalised the UK Register of Ground Engineering Professionals (RoGEP). This register will be open to applications from chartered members, with a ground engineering background, of these three professional bodies. The Ground Forum ‘umbrella’ body for the ground engineering sector, and brings together five learned societies and four trade associations that represent construction related ground engineering disciplines.

This Register provides stakeholders, including clients and other professionals, with a means to identify individuals who are suitably qualified and competent in ground engineering be they consultants, contractors, public bodies or academia. The Register also provides a means of demonstrating ground engineering competency. RoGEP requires certain competencies for the roles of Ground Engineering Professional, Ground Engineering Specialists’ and Ground Engineering Adviser. These have been included in the second edition of the Site Investigation Steering Group documents along with other future specifications, codes, standards and guidance documents.

A Ground Engineering Professional, Ground Engineering Specialist and Ground Engineering Adviser may be involved in various disciplines or on various projects that fall within the broad heading of ground engineering and must have an appreciation of other disciplines and interests that extend beyond, but may interface with , ground engineering. They must also be able to demonstrate how ground engineering interacts with other technical professions.

The RoGEP panel has developed a methodology and a set of procedures for assessing capability and experience for ground engineers that enables progression from the initial Professional grade through the intermediate grade of Specialist to the senior Adviser grade. This progression provides a pathway for young chartered engineers to develop in this branch of engineering.

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Article Business Practice Data Management Executive Safety

Establishing Ground Rules

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Concerns over the place of Ground investigations in relation to CDM led John Banks and Mouchel Parkman to raise queries with HSE and an APS Legal Adviser. We print below the critical exchanges for the benefit of all those who may encounter similar concerns/ problems.

From John Bans (Technical Director of Mouchel Parkman and Finance Director of APSt) to staff at Mouchel Parkman

“I have attached a copy of the legal advice received from The Association for Project Safety relating to the application of CDM Regulations to Ground Investigations. The reason for asking for a specific ruling was the attitude of the Contractor who despite being informed (via structure and correct ICE Conditions of Contract) that we expected them to be Principal Contractor, moaned about the fact once appointed.  The work is small in scale: 3 days trail pitting, then a break and then returning to undertake the boreholes for 3 weeks.

You will note that the ruling supplied states that it is the project that is important (building schools [and in fact most projects] generally takes longer than 6 weeks to construct)

I know I have started this before but note that:

  • All Ground Investigations, allied to a larger project will have a construction period of no longer than 6 weeks (and generally that is the only reason we are doing them), need a CDM Co-ordinator and Principal Contractor

The only exception is where we are undertaking Ground Investigations and there is no final project (seeing if a site is within Part 11A, etc)”


The APS Legal Advisors had responded to John’s enquiries as follows:
“The issue in this query centres around the definition of a project. This is defined in regulation 2 as “a project which includes or is intended to include construction work and includes all planning, design, management or other involved in a project until the end of the construction phase”.

The ground investigation is part of a larger project. The definition of a project extends to include the planning and design, which is taking place at the same time as the ground investigation. It would be artificial to treat the ground investigation works as separate from the project as a whole.

The difference between treating the ground investigation as part of a notifiable project, and treating it as a stand alone project which is not notifiable, need not be very great.  The ground investigation contractor would of course have the duties of a principal contractor, but contractors have duties under CDM2007 in any event if their work is not notifiable (see regulation 13).

Because of the limited nature of the works, the health and safety file would not need to be lengthy or elaborate. The health and safety plan would deal with the specific risks only. Similarly the health and safety file would not need to cover more than the residual risks arising out of the ground investigation works or which have become apparent as the result of those works.”

The Mouchel Parkman Compliance manager had also sought the views of the HSE at Rose Court via infoline and received the following.

“You are correct in every respect. The ground investigation works are part of the notifiable part of the project. It is not unusual for ground investigation works to take place early, perhaps long before the appointment of the Principal Contractor who will be undertaking the management of the main construction phase. However, it is still part of the same overall project.

As the project is notifiable, and the ground investigation is part of the notifiable project, there needs to be a Principal Contractor (PC) appointed. If the only work being carried out on site is the ground investigation, then I do not understand why the ground contractor thinks they are not competent to act as PC- for themselves. The role of PC is essentially to co-ordinate the construction work on site, to ensure that it is carried out safely. I assume the contractor feels confident enough to do their own work safely.  There will be a requirement to fence off the site, liaise and co-ordinate with the school/client to ensure safety to children, staff and the nearby public, and ensure welfare facilities. Their construction phase plan will only need to go as far as covering their involvement at the site. At the end of their work, presumable they relinquish the role of PC, which is subsequently taken up by the PC for the main construction phase plan.

If there will be other contractors working at the same time as the ground investigation contractor, I can understand their reluctance if they have not been in a position to manage other contractors before, and they may not have personnel capable or competent to do this task. Otherwise, acting as PC for their own work only, should not create any extra demands.

Ref: Article taken from APS newsletter/ October 2007

Article Business Practice Data Management Loss Prevention

Equitable contribution clauses

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Scenario: a homeowner decides to have an extension built at his house and employs a consultant and a contractor to carry out work relating to the foundations.  Two months after the work is completed, the roof of the extension collapses because a wall structure was badly constructed and was unstable. The homeowner wants compensation, claiming that both the contractor and the consultant are to blame; he claims that the contractor provided poor workmanship and the consultant failed adequately to assess the ground conditions.


But who can the homeowner sue? Can he sue the contractor, the consultant, or both?


  1. Why include an equitable contribution clause in a contract?

An equitable contribution clause, sometimes known as a net contribution clause, contract seeks to ensure that where two or more parties (e.g. consultants and contractors in our scenario) are liable for the same damage, the liability of each party is restricted to the amount for which that party is responsible.  Such clauses have been included in professionals’ conditions of engagement and collateral warranties for some time.  They are included in the standard terms of engagement published by various professional bodies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Association of Consulting Engineers.

  1. How does an equitable contribution clause operate?

In our scenario, an equitable contribution clause in the homeowner’s contract with the consultant would state that if the consultant is liable, that liability will be capped at whatever it is just and equitable for the consultant to pay having regard to his and any other person’s fault.  In the absence of the equitable contribution clause, the homeowner is free to sue the consultant for 100% of the damages he has suffered.  The consultant can then rely on the Civil Liability (Contributions) Act 1978 to seek to recover a contribution from the contractor.

  1. The law

If parties have joint liability, then they are each liable up to the full amount of the relevant obligation; the converse is several liability, where the parties are liable for only their respective obligations.  Joint and several liability is a hybrid of both; with respect to our scenario, the consultant and the contractor are jointly liable, but as between themselves, their liabilities are several.

The Civil Liability (Contributions) Act 1978,  s. 1(1) provides that a person who is liable in respect of any damage is entitled to recover a contribution from any other person liable in respect of the same damage.  This means that if the homeowner pursues the consultant for damages, and receives payment in full, the consultant can then pursue the contractor for a contribution to their share of the liability.

  1. Shifting risk and responsibility

Back to our scenario: in the absence of an equitable contribution clause, the homeowner decides to sue the consultant for the damage he has suffered.  By paying all of the damages to the homeowner, the consultant takes the risk that the contractor is solvent and so will be able to meet any claim under the Civil Liability (Contributions) Act 1978.  If the contractor is insolvent, then the consultant will not have a meaningful remedy.

But if the consultant is a party to a contract which contains an equitable contribution clause, the risk of the contractor’s insolvency shifts to the homeowner.  If the consultant is 30% responsible and the contractor 70% responsible, then the consultant will be liable only for 30% of the homeowner’s loss, even though under the joint and several principle he would be responsible for 100%, and even if the contractor is insolvent. The equitable contribution clause means that the contractor’s 70% fault is funded by the homeowner rather than the consultant.

Invariably, developers and investors are not keen on equitable contribution clauses as they can affect recovery of losses.  Insurers, on the other hand, welcome such clauses. For consultants and contractors they have an important role to play in an effective risk management strategy.

  1. Example of an equitable contribution clause

This example is shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

Without prejudice to any other exclusion or limitation of liability, damages, loss, expense or costs the liability of [the Consultant] for any claim or claims under this Agreement shall be further limited to such sum as it would be just and equitable for [the Consultant] to pay having regard to the extent of his responsibility for the loss or damage giving rise to such claim or claims (‘the loss and damage’) and on the assumptions that:

  1. all other consultants, contractors, sub-contractors, project managers or advisers engaged in connection with [the Project] have provided contractual undertakings on terms no less onerous than those set out in Clause [ ] to the [the Client] in respect of the carrying out of their obligations; and
  2. there are no exclusions of or limitations of liability nor joint insurance or co-insurance provisions between the [Client] and any other party referred to in this clause and any such other party who is responsible to any extent for the loss and damage is contractually liable to the [Client] for the loss and damage; and
  3. all such other consultants, contractors, sub-contractors, project managers or advisers have paid to the [Client] such sum as it would be just and equitable for them to pay having regard to the extent of their responsibility for the loss and damage.


Dr Alan McBride

Steven Francis

Eversheds LLP solicitors

Article Data Management Laboratories

BRE SD1:2005 – Implication for SI & Specifications

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The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has recently revised Special Digest 1 “Concrete in aggressive ground”. This new edition (SD1: 2005), funded by The Concrete Centre, was published as a single volume in June, following the completion of a four year research programme on combating the thaumasite form of sulphate attack (TSA) . There are two key changes to the procedure for assessing the ground;

1. The limits of the design sulphate classes based upon 2:1 water/soil extract tests on soil have been reduced to bring sulphate classifications based on 2:1 water/soil extract tests and on groundwater into parity. This will result in some sites being rated as more aggressive to concrete than hitherto.

2. High magnesium levels are no longer taken into account for natural ground.

There are five key changes to the procedure for the specification of concrete;

1. The recommended maximum water/cement ratios and the minimum cement contents have been revised.

2. A new classification for cements and blended cements has been introduced to harmonise with European standards.

3. The recommended concrete quality now caters for the inherent possibility of exposure to an external source of the carbonate required for TSA.

4. The number of additional protective measures to be applied at higher sulphate levels has been reduced, in general by two.

5. The use of the concept ‘intended working life’ replaces that of ‘structural performance level’ to harmonise with European standards.

BRE has told FPS that the take up of its revised SD1 would likely be slow as it has received no funding to mount a promotional campaign. It is relevant to note that currently some of the on-line information services are still offering just the SD1:2003 version, some 6 months after publication of the latest edition. Also, even if professionals do know of the existence of SD1:2005, they may not feel obliged to use it at the moment as the current edition of BS 8500 Concrete refers to SD1:2003. BS 8500 will unlikely to be updated before the latter part of 2006.

It is often not clear which version of SD1 has been used to classify the ground and the concrete.

The members of the Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) are supplied with numerous site investigation reports and Engineer’s Particular Specifications every working day. Currently it is often not clear in these which version of SD1 has been used to classify the ground and the concrete. It is the exception when clear reference is made to say SD1: 2005.

FPS requests that in future all site investigation reports and Particular Specifications make clear reference to SD1: 2005. Our Clients can then be confident that piling concrete is provided in accordance with the latest requirements by eliminating the potential for misunderstanding to enter into the specification process.

Grout is a different material to concrete and SD1:2005 is only applicable for concrete.

In addition, FPS also requests that where the foundation solution may comprise minipiles, ground anchors, soil nails, grouting, base or shaft grouted piles, permanent sleeves to piles, or cross-hole sonic logging of piles, i.e. any case where grout is likely to be used either in lieu of, or in addition to, concrete, that reference is not made to SD1: 2005 for these options. This is due to the fact that grout is a different material to concrete and SD1: 2005 is only applicable for concrete.

Tony Suckling
Technical Development Manager Stent Foundations Ltd

Chair Technical Committee
Federation of Piling Specialists