5 Dec 2023

Lawyers for CTV building engineer Dr Alan Reay claim allegation unwarranted

8:29 pm on 5 December 2023
The damaged CTV building in the central business district in Christchurch on February 23, 2011 - a day after the city was rocked by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

File photo. In February 2011, 115 people died when the six-storey building came down. Photo: AFP / Marty Melville

Lawyers representing the engineer whose firm designed the CTV building that collapsed in the Christchurch earthquake say the complaint against Dr Alan Reay has no basis and should be dismissed.

In February 2011 earthquake, 115 people died when the six-storey building came down.

The following year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment claimed Reay breached his professional obligations, based on Royal Commission findings that the design was seriously deficient.

An Engineering New Zealand Disciplinary Committee is examining whether Reay failed to adequately supervise an inexperienced employee, David Harding, who designed the building in 1986, and if so, what action should be taken.

Reay's lawyer Kristy McDonald KC told the committee on Tuesday that Reay "strongly denied" the allegation.

"There was no professional standard in place in 1986 that required Dr Reay to closely supervise an employee who was a senior registered engineer such as Mr Harding," she said.

"And if such a standard did exist, which is denied, Dr Reay reasonably believed that Mr Harding had the necessary experience to design the CTV building in light of the support that Dr Reay had put in place to assist Mr Harding."

McDonald said although Reay was clear that there was no merit in the complaint, he recognised the CTV families and the loss they had suffered.

She said the onus was not on Reay to prove his innocence, and told the committee that they held Reay's reputation in their hands.

"As the committee knows Dr Reay is now 82 years of age and is unwell. He is no longer practising as a structural engineer and has not been in practice for many years. Even if warranted which is denied, no useful purpose can be served from making an adverse finding against him," she said.

During the hearing yesterday, the spokesperson for the CTV families, Maan Alkaisi, said families had been waiting 12 years for accountability over the tragedy.

The hearing is expected to finish on Wednesday.