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Ever find yourself in a sticky ethical situation? Mr. Ethics has your back! Mr. Ethics is here to take your questions and give you his input on how to best deal with your situation. Have a question for Mr. Ethics? Send it to and he may respond to you here on the Mr. Ethics Blog.


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Mr. Ethics - November 2015

Posted By Mr. Ethics, Monday, November 30, 2015

Dear Mr. Ethics,


We are the architect of record for a hospital, new construction project.  Our contract calls for us to be the initial decision maker for any contractor disputes that arise on the project including any claims that allege errors and omissions against us.   The general contractor wants that provision stricken from the project agreements because they believe that we should not be ruling on our own potential errors or omissions.  They argue its patently unethical.  I think their request is insulting.  We can render unbiased decisions.  What do you think about the request?


Very truly yours,


Insulted in Utah




Dear Insulted,


I am sure that you can ethically carry out your obligations under this provision but this may be one request you should support.   Perceptions can be stronger than reality when it comes to acting ethically.  Even if a ruling is unbiased a perception is still going to be that you were covering an exposure of liability that you committed.  Moreover, if you determine that an error or omission did occur you could be considered to have admitted liability for any costs incurred as a result of same.  Admissions of liability, if made without the consent of your professional liability carrier may result in your coverage being voided.  Although you are committed acting in an ethical manner, and perceptions of impropriety may be unethical in themselves, you may want to consider the general contractor’s request.  Sometimes it may be better to decline a responsibility so long as it is not unethical to do same.  This may be one of those times.  


Regards, Mr. Ethics.

Tags:  Contracts  Disputes  Errors and Omissions  Mr. Ethics 

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He Said, She Said

Posted By Mr. Ethics, Thursday, May 15, 2014
Dear Mr. Ethics,

A project owner has asked us to come back to a project we completed 3 years ago. The owner is reporting water leaking in through an area of the roof where the mechanical equipment is located. This is a long term client of ours and they want us to help determine where the leak is coming from. My project manager is uneasy about going to the site since it has been so long since project close out. She thinks there may be some risk we are missing if we do as asked. I think we need to aid this client. Which one of us is right?

He Said She Said

Dear Said,

You both are right. First let me say you are under no ethical obligation to return to the site as requested by the owner. However, as a long term client you probably have a moral obligation to fulfill the request. Second, your employee is also right. If you return to the site you might be considered as having “opened” your closed contract. A court may see your actions as a continuation of your original contract. As a result the project statute of limitations and the statute of repose will be reset by the court to start running from the date you review the water infiltration problem. This would add another three years to the statutes and your risk exposure. You should advise the owner in writing that you will look at the situation but it is not part of the contract services that closed several years ago. Getting a no cost work order would also avoid opening up the original agreement and allow you to act ethically.

-Mr. Ethics

Tags:  Contracts  MR. Ethics  Project Close Out 

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