The legal responsibilities



The main laws from the Common Law legal system, which are applicable to a civil engineering company, such as Scott Wilson, are contract, employment, tort, criminal and health and safety. Our chosen company has many policies that cover these laws and actions to be taken in the case of misconduct. The policies are outlined in a booklet The Way We Do Business, which has been keenly promoted amongst the company employees since 2008 and is accessible to general public. The following sections consider the forms of these laws and how their legal aspects are covered by the relevant company policies.


All employees have standard employment contracts. The company is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998 and strives to ensure that all personal information about their employees is handled properly. In Data Protection Guidance Scott Wilson outlines what employees should do to ensure that their personal information is secure, how to disclose information over the phone, handle requests from individuals for their personal information and how to meet expectations of employees and clients.

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The associated company policies, briefed in The Way We Do Business and available only on the company's intranet, are Employment and Recruitment, Internal and External Communications, Dealing with a Concern, Reward & Recognition, Learning & Development, Use of Drugs & Alcohol and Values & Ethics. The main messages in these policies are:

  • All employees are fully responsible for complying with the stated policies by reflecting on their personal behaviour.
  • Employment contracts are based on equal opportunity, diversity, qualification, experience and competence.
  • Contracts and payroll obligations obey the local tax, social security and withholding regulations and any changes will be consistent with local legislation.
  • No employee or sub-contractor can come to work after using drugs or alcohol, consume or possess them while on duty. All staff can be tested for consumption of drugs and alcohol and in case
    of violation disciplinary action by Scott Wilson will be taken.

Scott Wilson's objective is to be ‘an employer of choice'. The company states that any racial discrimination is intolerable and embraces diversity within their staff. Recruitment, rewards and promotion are based on merit only. In addition to that, Scott Wilson complies with the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and fully considers all applications made by disabled persons. Company has offices in 80 countries around the world and recognizes that in some of them the human right laws are abused by forced or child labour. In addition to having a checklist of actions when considering employment contracts in non-democratic countries, Scott Wilson also monitors their performance against the United Nations Global Compact. Both the checklist and the ten UNGC principles are listed in Appendix 1.


There is not much information on the company's website about its contracts with clients, but The Way We Do Business booklet has relevant policies, namely Internal and External Communications, Client Satisfaction and Contract Documents. In addition to that, under the Data Protection Act 1998 it is an offence to release any confidential information about the client.

The company policies, concerning clients, emphasize that a good communication and highest client satisfaction are the main objectives of the company. The Contract Documents policy states the main procedures that are undertaken when signing any contract with clients, parent company guarantees, suppliers, joint venture, confidentiality, co-operation and partnering agreements. These objectives, mitigating the company's exposure to risk, are:

  • Ensuring that all work is carried out under Scott Wilson Standard Terms of Business or any other accepted contract conditions;
  • Sub-consultants are appointed only under the company's Sub-Consultancy Agreement;
  • Ensure that the contract is reviewed and all wording is appropriate, before it is signed;
  • Ensure that legal obligations are appropriate to the company, that payment and other terms conform to Scott Wilsons requirements;
  • Ensuring that the services to be provided by the company are fully explained and understood, and procedures for changes are considered;
  • Documents are checked and signed only by appropriately authorised person;
  • A copy of a contract is always held.

Professional liabilities

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Under the definition, every person is legally responsible for their actions and wrongdoing if they owe a duty of care to someone and are negligent, do not follow the engineering standards or if someone is killed due to their fault. The main Scott Wilson policies that are related to these liabilities are Values and Ethics, Health, Safety and Welfare at Work, Risk Management and Whistleblowing policy. The latter one, named Dealing with a Concern, states that even though every employment contract requires the employees to conceal any confidential information of the company, any wrongdoing by individuals or the company must be reported, and dealt with in a lawful manner. The Annual Scott Wilson Report states that in 2009 there were no malpractice incidents reported under the procedure. The lists of concerns that are or are not covered by the policy are listed in Appendix 1.

Breach of confidence and intellectual property rights

Every employment contract or contract with a client aims at highest standards of confidentiality of any personal information held by the parties. As mentioned before, the Data Protection Act 1998 covers the confidentiality of employees and clients. A Share Dealing policy outlines what is considered as price-sensitive information, what actions should be taken when dealing with price-sensitive information and what will happen in case of a disclosure. Any insider dealing will be treated as an offence under Part V of the UK's Criminal Justice Act 1993.

Environmental law

The Company aims to be the leading environmental consultant. It complies with all environmental legislation, set out in every country of their practice, as well as with the UN Global Compact. They are accredited by Carbon Trust UK and ISO 14001 EMS. Consequently, as stated in their Corporate Responsibility Report 2009, the company was fully compliant with all such legislation in 2009 and no warnings were received about breaching any of such environmental laws.

Health and Safety

Scott Wilson's health and safety management practices are founded on the objectives of the UK's Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and related legislation of every country of practise. In addition to having a Safety Management System, certified to OHSAS 18001, there are also Use of Alcohol and Drugs, Health, Safety and Welfare at Work policies and Health and Safety Handbook available on company's intranet.

The company states that they are responsible for providing a safe working environment to all staff, clients and any stakeholders. They aim to ensure that all employees are aware of the Health and Safety policy and know what their duties towards themselves and others are.

The Health & Safety Handbook declares a checklist for everyone's personal safety, named Stop 5. (Figure 1). In addition to that, to mitigate the probability of an accident and resulting personal liability, it outlines the do's and don'ts when one is working in a normal office situation, going on site, is in charge of a work group, is leaving the office or working alone. It outlines the main hazards and risks of visiting a construction site, working on a railway, in radioactive area, carrying out environmental surveys or using public transport. The Handbook states that is it a legal requirement to prepare a risk assessment for all work activities.


After assessing how the legal aspects are incorporated into Scott Wilson's activities it can be said that the company actively strives to reduce any internal and external misconducts, concerning employee and company liabilities, client satisfaction, environmental and public protection and health and safety. Probably because of such good prevention against any possible legal issues by employing best possible practise and law requirements, it was impossible to find any information of legal issues within or legal cases against Scott Wilson on public search engines or any media.