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[ Questions answered: Legal advice ]


storage until it is clear who has ‘title’. Finally, recognise that photographs taken


without a film set style ‘clapperboard’ appearing in every photograph will have little value. The clapperboard should record why, where and when the picture was taken. The client should receive a copy of every photograph. Circumstances such as the acceleration of


the works are demanding at times. Consider the strain ‘helping out the client’ may put on your management, employees and cashflow before agreeing to your involvement.


An office facilities manager invited us to carry out a periodic inspection report on his building. We gave him a price for each circuit, did the work and sent him a bill. Just before it was due for payment, one of their employees received a nasty electrical shock from one of their pieces of equipment. One point was wrongly earthed. Not only will they not pay the bill, they are also threatening to sue us. We tested 10 per cent of the circuits available to us, which is correct, is it not?


The rules governing inspection and testing have, by necessity, always been vague. However, the ECA can provide guidance in the form of an Industry Best Practice Guide – a guide freely available to members from the ECA website. It is unacceptable to say ‘we only ever test a 10 per cent sample of the installation’. The state of the installation must dictate the number of tests required. The guide dictates which code is suitable for the resultant observations. Anything less is unacceptable. Houses, because there may only be a few circuits, will need the majority, if not all, the circuits testing. Larger commercial/industrial buildings may not need all circuits tested but will still need a rigorous inspection. The quotation should make it clear which


and how many circuits are to be tested – and, even then, that the chosen circuits may not provide a true, representative sample. The report should identify which circuits have been inspected and tested, what the general state of the installation is, and any restrictions the electrician faced while providing the service. Any further works of a purely investigative nature will need pricing on an hourly basis. Make this clear when quoting the initial works. Companies that work almost exclusively in this sector need an efficacy item added to their public liability insurance policy. Members who insure through the ECIC (Electrical Contractors’ Insurance Company) have this enhancement available to them.


Eyes open for site problems


Contracting is inherently risky, but when I work for a builder, he will have a contract with the client to insure the usual site risks for me – is that right?


This is a complex area of members’ day-to-day existence, one that benefits from expert advice and guidance. The only insurance needed by law is the cover for employer’s liability against injury or disease to their current or past employees


arising out of their employment. Contractors are normally required to provide public liability cover too. This covers for claims made by non-employees, that is other businesses or members of the public who may have suffered damage, or illness, as a direct result of the contractor’s negligence.


Building contracts should state whether the employer or principal contractor is to


insure the existing building, the works and the materials against a number of risks. It is advisable to ask the contractor whether the main contract insures you as an important subcontractor. When the main contractor amends the standard industry forms of contract, it often passes the risk for loss or damage to either unfixed materials or incomplete work, to the subcontractor. The subcontractor will then incur the extra cost of providing an ‘all risks’ (CAR) insurance policy.


Autumn 2010 ECA Today 57


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