Navigating the Legal and Ethical Landscape: Responsibilities of Quantity Surveyors in Construction Contracts

1st November, 2023

In the intricate realm of construction projects, quantity surveyors hold a significant responsibility. They are entrusted not only with the meticulous task of managing costs, but also with ensuring that construction contracts adhere to legal and ethical standards. In this article, we will delve into the critical legal and ethical considerations that quantity surveyors must bear in mind while handling construction contracts, elucidating their role as guardians of integrity and compliance in the construction industry.


Understanding the Legal Framework


Contractual Law


Contractual law forms the cornerstone of construction agreements. Quantity surveyors must have a comprehensive understanding of contract law, ensuring that the terms and conditions outlined in the contract are legally sound and enforceable. This knowledge is vital in drafting, interpreting, and administering contracts, safeguarding the interests of all parties involved.


Regulatory Compliance


Construction projects are subject to an array of regulations, including building codes, safety standards, environmental regulations, and zoning laws. Quantity surveyors must ensure that the construction contracts adhere to these regulations. Failure to comply with legal requirements can result in fines, project delays, and reputational damage.


Intellectual Property and Copyright


Architectural designs, engineering plans, and project documentation are intellectual property. Quantity surveyors need to respect copyright laws and intellectual property rights. Unauthorised use or reproduction of designs and plans can lead to legal disputes. Quantity surveyors play a crucial role in ensuring that project documentation is used responsibly and legally.


Ethical Considerations in Construction Contracts


Integrity and Honesty


Quantity surveyors must uphold the highest standards of integrity and honesty. They should provide accurate and transparent information to all parties involved in the construction project. Misrepresentation, dishonesty, or concealment of information can lead to legal repercussions and damage the professional reputation of the quantity surveyor and the firms they represent.


Conflicts of Interest


Conflicts of interest can compromise objectivity and fairness. Quantity surveyors must identify and disclose any potential conflicts of interest promptly. Failing to do so can lead to legal challenges and tarnish the reputation of the quantity surveyor and the organization they represent.


Fair and Transparent Practices


Quantity surveyors are responsible for fair and transparent procurement processes. They should ensure that bidding processes are impartial, and contracts are awarded based on merit and compliance with specifications. Any deviation from these ethical principles can lead to legal disputes and damage relationships with stakeholders.




Construction contracts often involve sensitive and proprietary information. Quantity surveyors are bound by ethical obligations to maintain confidentiality. Breaching confidentiality can lead to legal action and erode trust between parties. Quantity surveyors must handle project-related information with the utmost care and discretion.


RICS Rules of Conduct and Ethics


If you are a Quantity Surveyor in the UK it is important to adhere to and meet the industry standards set by RICS, especially if you are chartered.


“Now more than ever, professionalism matters. We are making it easier for clients and the public to choose skilled experts and have confidence in what to expect when they hire an RICS professional. As market trends change, the way RICS professionals qualify and practice is also evolving to deliver confidence and address real market challenges with ethical business practices.

The RICS Rules of Conduct have recently been updated to help the global profession respond to new risks and opportunities.

The new Rules replace the previous version which had been in place for members and firms since 2007. We have introduced the following changes to bring our ethical standards into one clear framework.

  • A simpler structure. We have made it easier for RICS members and firms to understand our rules, providing more confidence for clients and the public.
  • Clear examples. To help support members’ professional judgement, each Rule is illustrated with examples of how members and firms can behave to comply with the Rule. There are also 12 case studies showing real-life application of the Rules.
  • Focusing on respect, diversity and inclusion. Whether it’s encouraging diversity and inclusion, or tackling modern slavery, respect and courtesy underpin all our professional ethics.
  • Understanding evolving technology. The Rules highlight the importance of understanding the evolving use of data and technology, and the associated benefits and risks.
  • Tackling global challenges. The Rules show that ethical practice by RICS members and firms has an important role when it comes to global challenges, including creating sustainable development and tackling climate change.” (RICS, 2022)



The Role of Quantity Surveyors: Guardians of Integrity


Contract Review and Negotiation


Quantity surveyors play a crucial role in reviewing and negotiating construction contracts. They must meticulously scrutinize contract terms, ensuring that they are clear, unambiguous, and legally sound. Quantity surveyors negotiate terms that safeguard the interests of all parties involved, fostering a fair and equitable agreement.


Compliance Assurance


Quantity surveyors act as guardians of compliance. They ensure that construction projects adhere to legal regulations and ethical standards. By conducting regular audits and assessments, quantity surveyors mitigate legal risks, ensuring that the project progresses without legal challenges.


Conflict Resolution


Disputes are inherent in construction projects. Quantity surveyors, equipped with their legal and ethical knowledge, mediate conflicts and facilitate resolutions. Their ability to navigate disputes while upholding legal standards is essential in maintaining project timelines and relationships.


Continuous Professional Development and Adaptation


The legal and ethical landscape in the construction industry is dynamic. Laws evolve, regulations change, and ethical standards are refined. Quantity surveyors must invest in continuous professional development. Staying updated with legal developments, ethical guidelines, and industry best practices equips quantity surveyors with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the ever-changing legal and ethical terrain.




In the intricate tapestry of construction contracts, quantity surveyors stand as guardians of integrity, compliance, and ethical conduct. Their role extends far beyond cost estimation and contract administration; they are entrusted with upholding legal standards, ensuring fairness, and fostering transparent and ethical practices in the construction industry. By understanding the legal framework, adhering to ethical principles, and continuously updating their knowledge, quantity surveyors fulfil their responsibilities as stewards of legality and ethicality. In doing so, they not only safeguard the interests of the parties involved but also contribute to the overall integrity and reputation of the construction industry. As the construction landscape continues to evolve, the ethical and legal considerations upheld by quantity surveyors will remain indispensable, shaping the industry’s future with integrity and accountability.

Share this: