Beware when signing Form 15 – you may be personally liable

In a recent case the Queensland Court of Appeal held an engineer personally liable for signing an incorrect Form 15 (compliance certificate for building design or specification). The exact damages payable are yet to be decided but could be substantial.

The facts

Here is a summary of the case. The plaintiff purchased a commercial premises which were described as an “architecturally designed, single free-standing corporate headquarters/warehouse”. The building was new. The floor of the building was a floating concrete slab. An engineering company had designed the floating concrete slab and the engineer director of the company had signed the Form 15 (Compliance Certificate – Design) in relation to the floating concrete slab. Importantly, the Form 15 said:

…that the item/s described below, if installed and carried out in accordance with the information contained in this certificate, including any referenced documentation, will comply with the Standard Building Regulation.

In due course, the engineer also issued a Form 16 – (Compliance Certificate – Construction), in relation to the floating concrete slab.