(Ethical Engineering/Fair Trade) An engineer agrees to provide his services as a witness for free as a favor to his attorney friend. The client dismisses his friend as counsel and now the engineer wants to charge for his services.
Client retains Attorney Adrian in connection with litigation relating to a structural failure. Attorney Adrian contacts her friend, Engineer Alan, to conduct a preliminary investigation. Engineer Alan agrees to provide the services. As a favor to Attorney Adrian, Engineer Alan says he will not charge Client for the preliminary investigation.
Shortly after retaining Engineer Alan's services, Client dismisses Attorney Adrian because of a dispute and hires Attorney Albert. Client contacts Engineer Alan to prepare a written report of his preliminary investigation.
Engineer Alan agreed not to charge for this service as a favor his friend Attorney Adrian. He now feels that he can charge Client since Client no longer retains Attorney Adrian as counsel.
Should Engineer Alan now charge Client for the preliminary report? Why or why not?
--adapted from NSPE Cases No. 98-7
NSPE Code of Ethics An earlier version may have been used in this case.
Return to Professional Ethics in Engineering Practice: Discussion Cases Based on NSPE BER Cases
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