June 2020 – Law and Civil Engineering

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Contracts For Professional Engineering and Surveying Services Must be in Writing
by Eugene Bass

Professional engineers and licensed land surveyors must use written contracts for professional engineering and surveying services. Written contracts are defined to include contracts in electronic form. There are also certain exceptions to the requirements for written contracts.

Written contracts for professional engineering and surveying services must be signed by all parties prior to commencement of work unless the client states in writing that the work can commence before the contract is executed. The contract must contain at least the following provisions. (1) A description of the services to be provided to the client, (2) A description of any basis of compensation applicable to the contract, and the method of payment, (3) The name, address, and license or certificate number of the surveyor or engineer, and the name and address of the client, (4) A description of the procedure that the surveyor or engineer and the client will use to accommodate additional services, and (5) A description of the procedure to be used by any party to terminate the contract.

The law also provides for situations where written contracts are not required. They are; (1) Where engineering or surveying services are to be provided for which the client will not pay compensation, (2) Where the engineer or surveyor has a current or prior contractual relationship with the client to provide services, and that client has paid all of the fees that are due under the contract, (3) Where the client knowingly states in writing, after full disclosure of the legal requirements for written contracts, that a contract which complies with the requirements of the law is not required

Written contracts are also not required where services are rendered to any of the following; (1) A registered engineer, (2) A licensed land surveyor, (3) A licensed architect, (4) A licensed contractor, (5) A licensed geologist or geophysicist, (6) A manufacturing, mining, public utility, research and development, or other industrial corporation, if the services are provided in connection with or incidental to the products, systems, or services of that corporation or its affiliates, and (7) A public agency.

Special care should be taken to make sure that a written contract is fully executed before commencing with any engineering work where a written contract is required by law. Failure to do so is a violation of the law and could render the contract illegal and unenforceable and prove to be a significant problem if the engineer has seek court enforcement of the “contract.”

This article is intended only to provide general information regarding legal issues. It is not to be relied upon for legal advice. Contact your attorney for advise and guidance on general and specific legal issues.



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