Construction Standards and Codes of Practice - The Significance of Compliance and Non-Compliance
Architects, Engineers and Contractors rely on Standards and Codes of Practice to serve as a guide in the execution of their design and workmanship obligations. Standards or Codes of Practice, in effect, act as a codified version of the cumulative knowledge and technical expertise within the building and construction industry.
In Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority, pursuant to the Building Control Regulations (the "Regulations"), has issued the Approved Document of Acceptable Solutions (the "Approved Document"). The Approved Document specifies the preferred standards for different aspects of design and construction works which are deemed to meet the prescribed objectives and performance requirements in Singapore for design, material and construction. It is significant that the Approved Document cites both the British Standard and the Singapore Standard.
Since Standards or Codes of Practice can be said to reflect the best practices and cumulative knowledge of the construction industry over a period of time, one may argue that in a situation where a construction professional fails to follow these Standards or Codes of Practice, it will amount to a clear cut case of negligence and therefore, he should be held accountable for any damage to his employer or to third parties resulting from the defective design or workmanship.
However, in the recent case of Management Corporation Strata Title Plan No 2757 v Lee Mow Woo (practising under the firm of Engineers Partnership)  SGHC 112, the High Court accepted the argument that this might not always be the case.
In this case, the plaintiff was the management corporation of an industrial development known as Northlink Development (the "Development"). The Development consisted of three light industrial buildings (the "Building"). The defendant was the Consultant Engineer for the Development.
The plaintiff commenced legal proceedings against the defendant arguing that the defendant was negligent in the design of the Building and this has resulted in defects which required to be rectified. One of the alleged defects was in the area of the expansion joints and the surrounding areas.
The main issue to be determined by the Court was whether the design of the corbel/beam configurations at the expansion joints and the surrounding areas was defective.
The plaintiff took the position that the design was negligent since it did not comply with the requirements of the British Standards...
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