Updated 5.30pm with Chamber of Engineers response

The Malta Association of Professional Engineers is seeking to block amendments to the law regulating the profession, claiming that these would effectively eliminate the status of a professional engineer. 

The union that represents warranted engineers, is contesting these amendments which, according to the Engineering Profession Board, have come about after years of consultation and discussion and are now set to be pushed through parliament.

Acting to safeguard the profession that is “important and indispensable for the economic growth of our country,” the union (MAPE) has filed an application before the First Hall, Civil Court seeking to obtain a warrant of prohibitory injunction to block the proposed legal amendments. 

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After various attempts, last year the union had finally managed to obtain a copy of the drafted amendments and had convened an urgent extraordinary general meeting in November 2019, to discuss and analyze the proposals. 

Following that well-attended meeting, the union had filed a judicial protest claiming that not only did the proposed amendments not serve the best interests of the profession, but would indeed “undermine and eliminate the very existence of the engineering profession.”

The board had filed a counter-protest wherein it failed to address the union’s most serious concern, said the applicant. 

How can the board be taken seriously when stating that the “ultimate interest of this legislative process is for the engineering profession to be more widely acknowledged,” if the professional engineer, as such, will cease to exist, argued the union. 

According to the amendments, the “definition of the term ‘profession of engineer’ shall be deleted in its entirety and substituted with ’ Engineering Services', while 'profession of engineer' is to signify 'the performance or provision of reserved activities'.

Such services may be offered by any person considering himself to be an engineer without actually being qualified or without having graduated as an engineer, the union claimed. 

Moreover, certain regulations relating to indemnity insurance and the practice of engineers were also to be deleted, pointed out the union, voicing concern over the implications this could give rise to in case of workplace incidents or tragedies.

The amendments manifested a clear intention to “eradicate the professional engineer”, argued the union, adding that, contrary to what the board had declared in a press release issued by the Department of Information, MAPE had not yet been consulted about the matter. 

The board had only consulted the Chamber of Engineers, said the union, condemning the attempt to pass these amendments through Parliament and calling upon the court to uphold its request for a warrant of prohibitory injunction to block this attempt. 

The application was filed against the Engineering Profession Board, its chairperson and each of its six members.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, as well as the State Advocate, were also notified. 

Lawyer Michael Tanti-Dougall signed the application. 

Chamber of Engineers responds

In a statement, the Chamber of Engineers said that after outlining its position last year, it had begun negotiations with the board with the result that several of its proposals were adopted as amendments to the proposed law. 

These included the re-titling of the law to "Inġiniera Act" and definitions of the terms "inġinier" and "engineering services"

"The CoE disagrees that the latest consolidated draft will 'eliminate the very existence of the engineering profession' and 'eradicate the professional engineer'," it said.

"Furthermore, the issues of deletion of the term 'engineer' and substituted with 'engineering services' were addressed positively for engineers through responsible negotiation. Therefore, the Chamber shall continue ensuring an exhaustive clarification of inaccuracies for the benefit of the engineering community."

On the unions' claims that the Chamber was the only organisation consulted, it said it "cannot delve into the merits of the Board’s professional relationship with other organisations and the same Board’s prerogative in its autonomy".

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