Kamra tal-Periti welcomes new amendment

(source: Unsplash/Sergey Zolkin)

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The most recent amendment to legislation related to the construction sector in Malta removes the obligation of the architect in charge of the project to approve the site technical officer appointed by the contractor, according to a press statement Maltese architects’ association Kamra tal-Periti sent to Business Malta. This amendment also widens the pool of people authorised to provide such services through the inclusion of those in possession of a Bachelor of Engineering.

After the walls of three buildings collapsed in two months in Malta near construction sites, the government halted all demolition and excavation works in the country on 13 June and drafted legislation to regulate the vertical. Legal Notice 136 of 2019 regarding the Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations, 2019, came into force on 25 June.

However, the Kamra tal-Periti argued that there was a “lack of clarity between the principles made in the statement and certain statements made in Parliament,” after regulations came into effect and urged discussions with the government. The regulation was later amended through Legal Notice 180 of 2019, which came into force on 29 July.

“In the period between the publication of the two legal notices, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti worked incessantly to ensure that the interests of the profession are safeguarded and that public safety is placed at the forefront,” the press statement sent to BM says.

“In particular, it is to be noted that the Kamra’s primary contentions with the Legal Notice revolved around the fact that periti [Maltese word for architects] are the only actors on construction sites who are properly regulated, while all other actors operate in an unregulated manner, to the extent that the industry had reached, in the Kamra’s own words, a state of crisis,” the statement adds.

Despite only two of the proposed changes by the association having been included in the amended legal notice, the Kamra tagged the progress to be “significant” related to matters that impact the industry, which have been recorded in a Letter of Commitment presented by the government to the Kamra tal-Periti.

Further changes coming

The Maltese government has expressed commitment toward establishing a new authority to regulate the building and construction industry, which will be accompanied by the promulgation of new building and construction regulations in line with the Kamra’s proposals published last May.

Additionally, the Kamra’s “long-awaited” registration, licensing and classification of contractors and skilled labourers by government is also in the pipeline, which is believed to ensure that liabilities are carried by the professional and the contractor in a more equitable manner in line with the Civil Code.

“The new regulations will clearly delineate the various responsibilities to be carried by each of the participants on a construction site, which will, in the interim period, be addressed by Forms of Contract to be published shortly by the Kamra tal-Periti. The new regulations will also address liability periods of the participants on a construction site, bringing them in line with existing European models,” the press statement says.

Immediately after the summer recess, the government said it will issue various amendments to the Periti Act, which currently regulates the profession. Such changes have been the subject of discussions with subsequent governments since 2007, the association underscores, adding that now there appears to be convergence on most of the proposed amendments.

“In terms of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, as amended, various aspects were agreed, including the establishment of a register, to be published by the Building Regulation Office, of persons who are competent to provide the services of a site technical officer, the amendment of the various forms that are to be submitted to the Building Regulation Office to be in line with the latest Legal Notice and the processes agreed to between the government and the Kamra, and the eventual integration of the provisions of the Legal Notice in the regulations that will be eventually established under the Act regulating the new authority,” the press statement adds.

The Kamra says that “practically” all of the motions approved by its EGMs held on 21 June and 5 July 2019 have been addressed and there is now a recorded commitment by the government to implement “significant” reforms to the industry. “The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti is confident that there is the political will to ensure a comprehensive reform of the building and construction industry, as also outlined in the Kamra’s document A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta (May 2019) which has already received the support of all the stakeholders who have been consulted to date,” the press statement adds.

According to the association, the Maltese government has acknowledged the fact that an overhaul of the construction industry is not only necessary but also needed to ensure that it moves forward in a sustainable manner. The Kamra tal-Periti believes that the Letter of Commitment is an important milestone for all actors in the industry, including the general public.

Turbulent times

After the walls of three buildings collapsed in the past two months in Malta near construction sites, forcing the government to temporarily halt demolition and excavation works, the Kamra called for an extraordinary general meeting.

Prior to the EGM the Kamra published its preliminary position, and after the EGM the Kamra pledged commitment to improving the public safety of citizens and urged the government to enter discussions with the association.

The Kamra also welcomed the recent listing of licensed masons published on the website of the Building Regulation Office (BRO). 

The Kamra sent a letter to the minister, asking to clarify a number of points. At the same time, the Kamra also asked for a meeting prior to the publication of the legal notice.

Kamra tal-Periti met the government to discuss the new regulations that were brought into force, during which the association outlined its issues with the current regulations, and the positions voted upon in the extraordinary general meeting on 21 June.