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News & Press: 2018 News Items

Clarity on Corruption - What would you do?

Thursday, 25 October 2018  
Posted by: Bert vd Heever
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The latest edition of the RICS Construction Journal takes a look at corruption and ethics.

How do you compete for work in a market where standards differ and price more often than not determines who gets the work? How do you operate in countries where helping family and friends to get employment or to win a contract is seen as a positive?

Different countries and companies have different tolerances for engaging in practices that others would consider to be bribery or unethical conduct.

Steph Fairbairn, the journal editor asks: "What would you do?" She says: "This is a question most of us face regularly, whether in a personal or professional context. At a time when our industry is in a major stage of transition, the ethics of what we do, and how and why we do it, are more important than ever."

Five likely scenarios for quantity surveyors and project managers are debated – and the only conclusion is that everyone has a different view depending on their background, experience and beliefs.

Here are a few examples from the article on ethical dilemmas:

The contractor submits an interim application for payment on a construction project that includes amounts claimed for work. It is clear to the consultant quantity surveyor from a visual inspection that this work has not been completed on site. When challenged, the contractor suggests that this was a genuine error on their part. What action should the consultant quantity surveyor take in respect of the potential fraud that they believe has been attempted?

Competitive tenders are due to be submitted at a particular date and time, but one of them arrives late and is the lowest of those submitted. The client is very keen for this late tender to be considered and asks the consultant quantity surveyor or project manager to include it in their report, as if it had not been late. What should the consultant quantity surveyor or project manager do in this situation?


The consultant quantity surveyor or project manager has been asked by a favoured, and repeat, business client to submit a fee proposal for a particular construction project. Once submitted, the client approaches the quantity surveyor or project manager and indicates that they very much wish to appoint them for the project, but notes that unfortunately theirs was not the lowest fee proposal received. The client advises that if the quantity surveyor or project manager were able to reduce their fee to a certain level – that is, below the lowest fee proposal received – then they would be appointed the project. How should the consultant quantity surveyor or project manager respond?

How do your partners and staff respond to theses scenarios?

Click here to download the journal