This section provides information about:
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Anyone, except the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board (Board), a Board member, or the Registrar, can complain to the Board about the conduct of a plumber, gasfitter or drainlayer.
The Board recommends that, before making a complaint, people try to resolve any issues by talking to the relevant plumber, gasfitter, or drainlayer. Problems are often able to be resolved quickly and effectively in this way. The formal complaints and discipline process takes some time.
The Board can accept complaints about:
Please visit the public register to find out whether the person you are complaining about fits within one of these categories. If they do not, the Board may still be able to consider the matter but under a different process.
The Board can only consider complaints about certain conduct by plumbers, gasfitters, or drainlayers, as set out in the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Act 2006 (Act). The conduct mainly relates to poor, unsafe, improper or incompetent plumbing, gasfitting, or drainlaying work.
People commonly contact the Board about issues it cannot consider. Some examples of matters the Board doesn’t usually consider are:
Where a complaint goes right through the complaints and discipline process, and the Board finds a plumber, gasfitter, or drainlayer guilty of a disciplinary offence, the Board can make orders such as:
The Board has no powers to order a plumber, gasfitter, or drainlayer to fix work or pay a consumer money.
All complaints must be made in writing and addressed to the Registrar. You can make a complaint by submitting it electronically using the form at the top of this page or by sending it to:
Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board
PO Box 10655
It is helpful if you provide supporting documentation when making a complaint, such as photographs, copies of invoices, gas certificates and council documentation.
After receiving a complaint, the Board decides whether the complaint is something it can lawfully consider. When making this decision, the Board often contacts the tradesperson complained about and sends them the complaint and any supporting documentation, along with an invitation to provide a written explanation in response to the complaint. This allows the tradesperson or their representative a reasonable opportunity to respond to the matter and give their version of events. Please note that your name and complaint will be disclosed to the person complained about. If you do not want your name and the complaint disclosed in this way, the Board cannot consider your complaint.
If the complaint is not something the Board may consider, the Registrar advises the complainant.
If the complaint is about something the Board may consider, the Registrar decides whether to:
This decision is made taking into account the Board’s functions, and its duty to protect the health and safety of members of the public by ensuring the competency of persons engaged in the provision of sanitary plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying services.
Once appointed, an investigator investigates the complaint to determine whether, in their opinion, the Board should consider the complaint at a disciplinary hearing. An investigator carries a warrant of authority proving that they are entitled to investigate the matter and exercise investigation powers. During the course of an investigation, an investigator may talk to people who have information relevant to the complaint, inspect the work complained about, ask to see any documents or information relating to the complaint and take copies of that information.
As a result of their investigation, the investigator determines whether the Board should consider the complaint.
If an investigator decides a complaint should be considered by the Board, the Board holds disciplinary hearing. A summary of the disciplinary hearing process follows.
At least 20 working days before the Board hearing, the person complained about (respondent) is served with a notice of disciplinary proceedings (the notice), advising:
Before the hearing, the Board organises a teleconference for the parties to discuss administrative matters including:
Those present at the teleconference usually include:
The hearing is usually public and conducted in a formal manner similar to that of a court case. The Board observes the rules of natural justice. The process is an inquisitorial one. Both parties make opening submissions, give evidence, and finish with closing submissions. Board members may also ask questions of the parties and the witnesses. At the end of the hearing the Board adjourns to deliberate and make its decision.
It is the respondent’s decision whether or not they wish to agree to a summary of facts or plead guilty to the charge(s) set out in the notice. In all cases, the Board must determine whether it is satisfied a person is guilty of a disciplinary offence.
In all disciplinary proceedings, the Board may receive as evidence any statement, document, information, or matter, that may in its opinion, assist it to deal effectively with the matter being heard, regardless of whether or not it would be admissible as evidence in a court of law. In addition, the Board has the same powers as are conferred on Commissions of Inquiry under sections 4 and 4B to 9 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908.
Depending on the circumstances, the Board may issue a decision following deliberation and, if the respondent has been found guilty of a disciplinary offence, move on to hearing penalty submissions immediately. Alternatively, the Board may reserve its decision and, if it finds the respondent guilty of a disciplinary offence, set a date for a penalty hearing.
At a penalty hearing, the Board considers whether to exercise its powers under section 106, which include making orders:
The Board may also order the payment of costs and expenses (section 107).
Any person found guilty by the Board has the right to appeal. Any appeal must be lodged with the District Court within 20 working days of receipt of service of the Board’s decision.
The Board convenes most of its disciplinary hearings in Wellington to save on costs.
The Board may order interim suspension or disqualification before or after a notice has been served on a respondent if is satisfied that it is necessary to do so, having regard to the need to protect the safety of members of the public (section 102). Such an order continues in force until the investigator determines that the complaint should not be considered by the Board, or until the Board has exercised its disciplinary powers under section 106.
The complaints and discipline process is often lengthy. As a general guide, it takes up to 2 months from the receipt of a complaint to the appointment of an investigator, and another 2 months for the investigator to conduct the investigation. If the complaint proceeds to a disciplinary hearing, this is usually held within 12 months of receipt of the complaint. In some cases, more complex complaints may take longer to be processed.