Litigation in the Non-destructive Testing Space

Concrete Structure Investigations (CSI) has been recruited as Expert Witness in a considerable number of court cases that deal with not only poor Construction practices but also the reckless use of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) technologies.

Project Requirements

There are two tiers to what is being discovered into what are largely unregulated industries (both Construction and NDT). Apparently, it was not the intention to have the Construction Industry unregulated, however, in real terms, this is essentially what has occurred during a certain period in NZ’s history.  With a myriad of decisions at Government and Commercial level lining up to make ‘the perfect storm’. E.g. abolishment of Clerk of Works and large Companies with Construction as one arm of their business, driving the ‘race to the bottom’ by negatively pricing jobs. There are more aspects to the resulting poor Construction in NZ but are too many to mention in a Case Study of this size.

NDT, on the other hand, is largely unregulated in real terms in NZ. In fact, at CSI we have to go to other developed nations to work from their standards in regards to many NDT technologies. The best we can do when we come across misinformation in the industry is alert the provider of the possible misuse of the technology. This is received with varying amounts of enthusiasm by those providers (and/or sellers of the technologies who are alerted to the possible misuse as well).

Litigation in the Non-destructive Testing Space
Litigation in the Non-destructive Testing Space


CSI’s role in poor Construction Court Cases is by using our NDT technologies to discover what has actually gone into the structure.  All too often we find that the construction does not always reflect what was built into the plans (the plans in most situations appear to meet all regulations).  In many cases, the result is that the Construction Companies have ‘disappeared’ and very often the ratepayers still end up footing the bills via Councils (being the last man standing) for all the upgrading that is required.

CSI’s role in the misuse of NDT Technologies in litigation has been in exposing the reckless use of the technologies.   CSI is certificated internationally for all technologies where certification is available, and for technology where certification is not available, we have conducted years of research (at times with organisations such as Callaghan Innovation) to verify our work and standards of operation.

CSI regularly talks with the engineers who develop the technologies (most of these are based in Europe and the USA) to fully understand their operation and have had our technicians visit the Manufacturers overseas to collaborate face to face.

Benefits of Solutions

It is extremely important that operators of NDT understand that buying a high-level piece of equipment and reading the instruction manual once (often times not comprehensively), does not make the operator an expert.  This also needs to be relayed more succinctly by the ‘sellers’ to potential buyers, to avoid dangerous mistakes.   Experience also makes an enormous difference to the level of excellence, although if commencing on a flawed platform it is possible to just keep repeating the same mistakes.

There are significant risks in terms of Health and Safety when data is collected for Engineers, who then make design decisions based on information they believe is from a reliable source.  This is a recipe for disaster.  It is an area CSI is very keen to push; regulation of the NDT industry so standards are high and data collected can be relied upon.

In several instances where property owners have suspected inherent issues with their structures, CSI has been able to use NDT technologies to collect data, which in turn is assessed for possible recourse to Developers and Construction Companies through litigation.  Unfortunately, this has occurred in several instances where large recently built apartment blocks appear to be poorly constructed and the tenants are often not well resourced, but facing enormous retrofit expenses to bring their homes up to liveable and safe standards (through no fault of their own).

CSI’s aim is that buildings and infrastructures are safe in NZ and that the NDT industry is an extremely useful and highly regarded tool for Engineers, Property Owners, Councils, Government, Building Surveyors, Architects, and Construction Companies.  It has to be ‘driven by experts’ to be so.

Please see our latest Blog about ‘Keeping NDT Credible

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We look forward to hearing from you with any feedback you have on any of these issues.