LEGCO Paper No. CB(2) 1274/95-96
(The minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/4/95

Minutes of Meeting of the Bills Committee to study
the Buildings (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1995

held on Monday, 25 March 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG, MBE, FEng, JP

Members Absent :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP ]away from Hong Kong
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing ]other commitment

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Trevor KEEN
Prin Asst Secy for Planning, Environment and Lands
Director of Buildings
Mr CHENG Wei-dart
Deputy Director of Buildings
Mr Edward LOK Che-leung
Asst Director of Buildings (Legal & Management)

In Attendance :

The Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA)
Mr Dennis LAU Wing-kwong - also Chairman, Architects Registration Board
Mr LAM Wo-hei

The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE)

The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS)
Mr Michael Mann

The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA)
Mr Kent LEE
Mr TONG Chun-wan

The Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA)
Mr Patrick CHAN

Staff in Attendance :

Mr LEE Yu-sung
Asst Legal Adviser 1
Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Asst Secy (BC) 1
Miss Odelia LEUNG
Sr Asst Secy (BC) 1

I. Confirmation of Minutes of Previous Meetings

The Minutes of meetings of the Bills Committee and of the Subcommittees held on 2, 16 February and 15 February 1996 respectively (Ref: LP Nos. HB815, 892, 735/95-96) were confirmed.


2. Two papers entitled "Explanatory Statement on Supervision Plan to be prepared by AP, RSE and RC before building work commences" each from the Administration and the professional institutions were tabled at the meeting. The Administration also tabled a flow chart on the procedures in submitting detailed supervision plan.

3. Mr LAM Wo-hei stated that the professional institutions held a recent meeting with the Buildings Department (BD) to discuss the Explanatory Statement. Their version had incorporated some of the comments made by the BD in the course of discussion. Mr LAM took members through the professional institutions’ Explanatory Statement. The salient points of the discussion are set out below:

Plans Approval Stage

(Pages 1 and 2 of the Explanatory Statement)

4. Mr LAM Wo-hei explained that the prescribed plans listed in the Statement were required to be submitted by the AP or RSE under either the Building (Administration) Regulation or the Buildings Ordinance (BO). It would be appropriate to differentiate these prescribed plans to be prepared by the AP or RSE. Modelling on the present system adopted by the BD in respect of geotechnical works, the professional institutions proposed to extend the system to cover all building works. In approving the prescribed plans, the BD would indicate the extent of supervision required in the light of the nature, scale and complexity of the building project. The AP, RSE and RC would then prepare their own supervision plans and submitted them to the BD via the AP. Mr LAM Wo-hei emphasised that the AP and RSE could not discharge the supervisory duties by themselves and should be allowed to appoint alternates who were AP or RSE by qualification as appropriate to the case.

5. Dr Y L CHOI said that BD would only agree with the proposed system of separate supervision plans prepared by AP, RSE and RC if the contents of these separate plans were coordinated by an outline plan to be prepared by the AP. This outline plan should set out the inter-relationship between different plans and should cover the entire process of project implementation. He noted that the details of the system had yet to be worked out and the classification of supervision was yet to be proposed.

Number of Supervision Plan in a building project

(Page 3 of and Appendices A and B to the Explanatory Statement)

6. Mr LAM Wo-hei said that corresponding with the stages of building works, a supervision plan(s) would be submitted together with a consent application. Hence there would be a series of supervision plans covering different stages of works. At stages where the works involved primarily structural aspects, the AP’s involvement would be minimal.

7. Mr Albert CHAN was concerned about the liability for site safety in case of a time gap between the completion of one stage of works and the commencement of another.

8. Mr LAM Wo-hei said that at each stage of works, the primary responsibility on site safety would rest with the party who prepared the supervision plan for that particular stage. Given the features of building works in Hong Kong, normally there would not be any time gap between two stages of works. In the unlikely event that a site was laid idle, the responsibility would revert back to the owner.

9. The Chairman said that the question as to who should be held liable for the occurrence of an incident would depend on the facts of the case. There should be no doubt that somebody would be held responsible should anything go wrong.

10. Dr Y L CHOI said that the AP should set up a management system which would cover all stages of building works from commencement to completion. There should not be any gap between stages.

11. Mr Barry STUBBINGS explained the flow chart at Appendix B to the Explanatory Statement. The meeting noted the following points:

  1. The supervision plans to be prepared by the AP, RSE and RC would be guided by the Code of Practice.
  2. The words "outline" and "detailed" should be deleted from the two boxes at the middle column of the flow chart. The supervision plan should be prepared by the AP and RSE separately, but not AP/RSE as the Statement currently drafted.
  3. The BD would carry out inspections throughout the entire building processes to assess whether there was any deviation from the supervision plans. The Code of Practice would give directions on the meanings of minor as opposed to material deviations.
  4. Where an accident occurred, albeit no injury or damage was resulted, it would be considered as a risk of damage/injury. This interpretation was in line with the spirit of section 40 of the BO under which a person would be held criminally liable for permitting the carrying out of works likely to cause damage or injury.
  5. To avoid any duplication in handling complaints about deviations from supervision plans, the existing disciplinary boards or panels established under the respective professional registration ordinances should be empowered to consider taking disciplinary actions. In the event that there was no such body, a new disciplinary board or panel should be established under either the respective professional registration ordinances or the BO.
  6. As complaints against the building professionals would mainly be lodged by the Government or their peers and the Government had representatives sitting on the disciplinary boards, the handling of these complaints would be monitored. Past experiences showed that the disciplinary boards would not take an unduly long time to investigate complaints.
  7. The Administration and the professional institutions maintained their different positions on the issue of criminal sanctions.

Framework of Supervision Plan

(Page 4 of and Appendix C to the Statement)

12. Mr LAM Wo-hei explained that as shown in Appendix C, the RC was expected to provide 100% supervision whereas the AP and RSE were responsible for supervision relating to architectural and structural aspects respectively. The AP, RSE and RC would set up a system reporting their own sphere of supervision to the BD.

13. The meeting discussed the co-ordinating role of the AP in a building project. Both the Chairman and Mr Albert CHAN agreed that the AP, RSE and RC should be responsible for different aspects of supervision; they were concerned whether the AP had any part to play in ensuring the different professionals carrying out the duties entrusted to them.

14. Mr LAM Wo-hei emphasised that the AP should not be held responsible for the performance of other building professionals. Whilst the AP could collect the supervision plans prepared by the RSE and RC for submission to the BD, the AP could not be expected to play a policing role to oversee the works of other building professionals. The AP could not fulfil such a role unless posting a large number of watchdogs to monitor every activity to be carried out by other professionals at site.

15. Dr Y L CHOI said that the AP should put in place a system to ensure that the persons delegated with certain responsibilities did discharge their duties. Mr Trevor KEEN stated that the Administration did not expect the AP to perform only the role of a letter box by simply collecting the supervision plans prepared by other building professionals. The AP should go through the plans and exercise professional judgement to make sure the plans fit in with each other. After submission of the plans, the AP would have a monitoring and reporting role to perform. The AP should check that the supervision plans deposited with the BD were followed.

16. Mr LAM Wo-hei responded that there would be a two-tier reporting system. The AP would rely on the professionals to report on their own schedule of works. The AP would consider it an acceptable task to collect the audit reports from the RSE and RC for submission to the BD and to report to the RSE the attendance of their technically competent persons (TCPs). However, the AP could not and should not audit the reports of the RSE and RC; neither could the AP monitor the quality of works of the RSE and RC, which would depend on the competence of their TCPs.

17. Dr Y L CHOI confirmed that the co-ordinating role of the AP would be confined to the management of the monitoring and reporting system.

Content of the AP/RSE and RC’s Supervision Plans

(Page 5 of and Appendices D and E to the Statement)

18. Mr LAM Wo-hei explained the information to be included in the supervision plans of the three building professional disciplines. Mr LAM said that compared with the projects of the Housing Department, the costs of site supervision in private works were far less. Thus, the expenses on site management after the introduction of the system of supervision plan could only be increased in a progressive manner.

19. Regarding the appointment of alternates, Mr LAM Wo-hei said that the alternates would be liable for the performance of the works delegated to them.

20. Mr Patrick CHAN said that the HKCA did not agree entirely with the content of the RC’s supervision plan as described in the Explanatory Statement.

21. Dr Y L CHOI said that the supervision plan prepared by the AP should set out a management system covering the entire building processes. Whilst the Administration recognised the need of the professionals to assign some duties to alternates, it would seek legal advice on delegation of responsibility and liability of alternates. Mr Trevor KEEN added that the Administration was drafting the provisions about criminal sanctions under its revised proposals.


Date of next meeting

22. The next two meetings were scheduled as follows:

  1. 3 April 1996 (Wednesday) at 10:45 a.m.; and
  2. 18 April 1996 (Thursday) at 8:30 a.m.

23. The meeting ended at 12:45 p.m.

LegCo Secretariat
9 May 1996

Last Updated on 23 Apr, 1997