Posted Sunday, October 10, 2021
Academic qualifications are essential to assure professional competencies

Professionals who apply for a warrant must show that they have obtained the required academic qualifications. This was held in a decision delivered by the Administrative Review Tribunal on 4 October 2021 in Louis Borg -v- Il-Bord tal-Professjoni tal-Inġinerija. The Tribunal was presided by Magistrate Dr Charmain Galea.

Borg filed an appeal application following a decision by the Board tal-Inġiniera which rejected that he be awarded a warrant to practice as an engineer. In May 2019 the Board confirmed a previous decision not to allow the warrant after it asked whether Borg had presented all the academic qualifications. Borg argued that the Inġiniera Act stipulates that warrants should be given to those who obtain an engineering degree from the University of Malta or else an equivalent degree from an international institution. Academic qualifications are essential to assure professional competencies.

Professionals who apply for a warrant must show that they have obtained the required academic qualifications.  This was held in a decision delivered by the Administrative Review Tribunal on 4 October 2021 in Louis Borg -v- Il-Bord tal-Professjoni tal-Inġinerija.  The Tribunal was presided by Magistrate Dr Charmaine Galea.

Borg filed an appeal application following a decision by the Board tal-Inġiniera which rejected that he be awarded a warrant to practice as an engineer.  In May 2019 the Board confirmed a previous decision not to allow the warrant after it asked whether Borg had presented all the academic qualifications.  Borg argued that the Inġiniera Act stipulates that warrants should be given to those who obtain an engineering degree from the University of Malta or else an equivalent degree from an international institution.  Article 3(2) of the Inġiniera Act requires an academic qualification and traineeship for a year and then two.  Borg contended that the Board was mistaken to refuse his application was a warrant.  The Board ignored the fact he was in possession of a M.Sc in Sustainable Energy obtained from the University of Malta.  However, the University of Malta is not the only institution one can obtain a first degree. 

He listed the academic qualifications which are accepted by the University of Malta to be able to do his Masters. The Board tal-Inġiniera replied by saying it was not correct defendant in this case because it has a quasi-judicial function.  The Board explained that for a person to exercise the profession of an engineer an academic qualification is not sufficient.  That person must have a warrant and therefore be able to use ‘Ing’ before the name.  Furthermore, the Board pointed out that the criteria for the University of Malta to accept a student to do a Masters is different for one may be given a warrant.

The Ministry of Transport was called into suit and held that the Inġiniera Board was correct in its decision. The Tribunal examined the first plea with regard to whether the Board is the correct defendant.  Article 7 of the Inġiniera Act lists the functions of the Board which includes examining application for a warrant and that its decisions may be appealed. The Board has the power to grant a warrant to those who apply and are qualified engineers. The Minister then issues the warrant on the Board’s recommendations. This means that the Minister does not have any discretion and it is the Board which has the exclusive deciding authority on who is the exercise the profession of an engineer. The Tribunal held that the Board has quasi-judicial powers. It is a regulatory body and not a judicial body. Therefore, the applicant, Borg was correct to take the action against the Board.

The Tribunal then moved on to analyse the evidence produced. The head of the department of mechanical engineering at the University of Malta, held that a Chartered Engineer is not equivalent to a warranted engineer. The faculty only offers units in the Masters of Science in Sustainable Energy and the course falls under the Institute of Sustainable Energy.

The Appellant, Borg, testified and explained his academic achieves in Malta and abroad and that he is a Chartered Engineer in the UK. On the other hand a member of the Board testified that the Board does not deem a Chartered Engineer as an academic qualification, since it is not obtained on he basis of an academic degree.

The Tribunal pointed out that the reasons for the Board’s rejection of Borg’s application was that his academic qualification do not equate that that of the University of Malta. This is what is required in Article 2 of the Inġiniera Act.  The Tribunal analysed Borg’s academic qualification and compared with the Guidelines issued in October 2018. If the law wanted that a person undergoes an engineering course at the University of Malta, then an equivalent would of the course would be required. The Board has to be satisfied that if the person concerned did not study at the University of Malta, then he must has studied an equivalent course. Unfortunately, could not show this.

The Tribunal agreed with the Board that the qualifications of a Chartered Engineer are not equivalent to academic qualifications.

The Engineering profession has many responsibilities which include health and safety and therefore a person carrying a warrant must have the necessary academic formation.

The Tribunal then moved to dismiss the appeal.

 
 
Av Malcolm Mifsud
Partner
Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates
 
 
 
The article is available on MaltaToday.
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