Legal Notice creates added confusion – Kamra tal-Periti

Kamra tal-Periti (KtP) said that the Legal Notice that the government issued on Tuesday “does little to guarantee public safety primarily because it further confuses the responsibilities on site”.

In a press release, the KtP said that Legal Notice L.N. 136 on Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations 2019, is not only confusing but has also not dealt with the issue of requirement for registration and licensing of contractors making the STO liable to the government’s shortcomings to regulate the sector.

The chamber is also concerned that the government did not consult with them as per required by law and that the questions that had been sent to Minister Ian Borg have remained unanswered.

The KtP had consistently insisted that responsibilities should be clear and unambiguous in the interest of public safety, and that the Civil Code specifically identifies the perit and the contractor as being the two figures that should carry the responsibility, which are clear in the Civil Code.

The perit is responsible to design, specify and direct the works to ensure that the building is safe.    The contractor is responsible for executing the works, including following the design, specification and direction of the perit. It is up to the contractor to decide the composition and qualifications of his personnel to fulfil his responsibilities. This is the norm in developed countries.

The KtP also believes that a third responsibility, that is regulation needs to be carried out, and this could only be taken care of by the government, something that in the chamber’s words the authorities “have failed to fulfil”.

The chamber also highlighted the following examples where the government had failed in its duties in the industry:

  • The BRO was left severely underfunded for years, with a meagre annual capital budget of €150,000, which is barely equivalent to the salary of six of its employees, rendering it effectively powerless and ineffective.
  • The BRO has not put in place a system for registration and licensing of contractors in breach of Article 5 of the Building Regulation Act. This exposes the public to inordinate levels of risk.
  • The list of licensed masons was only published last Friday during the KtP EGM. The KtP numerous requests for such a list over the past years were dismissed by the BRO on the basis of data protection considerations. It is pertinent to point out that the list as published is in breach of Article 22 of the Services Directive which requires that the identification and contact details of masons and contractors be published so they may “be contacted rapidly and communicated with directly”.
  • The planning process was never clearly separated from the building regulation process, resulting in institutional confusion and inadequate enforcement. This confusion was further exacerbated when the Planning Authority (PA) issued two circulars yesterday evening about the Legal Notice, which falls under the remit of the BRO. Moreover, instead of Government investing in developing the BRO’s IT infrastructure, the PA has taken over the implementation of the new regulations from the remit of the BRO, and extended its online planning application system for this purpose. This is exacerbating further an already confusing situation.
  • No centralised building and construction regulations in line with those of other European Member States are in place. The few that are in place are contradictory or obsolete and fall under the remit of over 22 public entities.
  • The draft Periti Act has been left in abeyance for over 12 years, leaving the profession unable to modernise itself in line with contemporary requirements and EU regulations.
  • The Construction Products Directive, which falls under the remit of the MCCAA, was never enforced. This means that virtually no building and construction products on the market, which forms part of the wider European single market, are CE certified, and are therefore illegal. This has significant consequences for the consumer and the perit, in that there is no way to verify that the specifications are being met by the suppliers of building products, including bricks and pre-stressed concrete planks.