Can a QS be liable for over-certification of defective works?

If construction works have been certified by a QS, and it was subsequently found that these works were defective, can the QS be held liable for the over-certification?

A case in point that determined this issue was that of Dhamija v Sunningdale Joineries, Lewandowski Willcox and Mcbains Cooper Ltd. In this case, the owner sued the QS for over-certification, alleging that the works certified by the QS were in fact defective (and therefore ought not to have been certified).

The owner sought to persuade the Court that his appointment of the QS was subject to the implied term that only works that have been properly executed and not obviously defective ought to be certified.

The Court held that in the absence of express terms to the contrary, a QS is only obligated to check the quantities of work, and not its quality. It is the architect who ought to highlight to the QS if there is any apparent defects, in order that the QS may take these defects into account during valuation.

This seems to make sense, considering that it is the architect who would sign off on the interim payment certificates anyway after the works have been valued by the QS.

Kheng Hoe Advocates advises clients on CIPAA, arbitration, litigation and mediation of construction disputes. We can be contacted at khenghoe@khenghoe.com. 

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