Home' Inclean NZ : INCLEAN NZ May 2018 Contents 28 INCLEANNZ May 2018
CARPET & RESTORATION
Report writing is an essential
component of business, however, it
can expose you and your business
to potential risks if not composed
correctly. Paul Pritchard* shares
some writing guidelines to follow.
There are a number of situations that arise during the course of
your business life which will require you to provide a written report
or written response regarding a claim against you or a third party,
perhaps even one of your competitors.
Examples of this include:
• Requests by members of the public or insurance companies to
comment on or advise in respect of the workmanship or potential
liability of one of your competitors;
• Reports requested by customers, manufacturers, suppliers and
retailers or their insurers on work carried out by you or others;
• Responding to claims made against you by customers, insurers
In these situations there is a real danger that by responding in writing
you are exposing yourself to legal liability in respect of your own
workmanship, the opinions expressed by you (ostensibly “expert
opinions”) on the workmanship of others, the quality of a particular
product or service, or the cause of a particular problem or damage.
Often requests for responses/reports in writing are put in such a way
that you are led to believe that there is no serious implications from
providing such letters. It is also often suggested that providing the
report will be purely confidential.
It is easy to respond spontaneously to such requests without giving
proper consideration to the potential consequences of the words you
are writing to yourself or others.
It is also easy to stray from your own area of expertise and to
suddenly be giving opinions on matters which you have neither the
knowledge, nor experience or legal right to be commenting on.
The reality is:
• Whenever you provide a report on the workmanship or quality
of services or products, someone is going to be pleased with
your views and somebody else will be unhappy. For example,
the customer may be happy but the supplier may not be or vice
versa. Unless your expert opinion is backed up by the necessary
understanding of all of the facts and technical issues, you may
be exposed to liability. Such liability may extend to damages and
costs resulting from reliance on your report.
• Whenever you provide a report on your own workmanship and
its quality, there is potential liability. Very often, because of not
understanding the nature and extent of your potential liability,
you expose yourself unnecessarily to potential claims.
For these reasons, the following guidelines should always be applied in
considering requests to provide reports or respond in writing:
1. Always give careful consideration to the consequences before
agreeing to provide reports or written responses;
2. Be especially careful about providing opinions on the
workmanship/products of competitors;
3. Be conscious of your own limitations in terms of technical
knowledge, product knowledge and experience and the ability to
properly investigate and present written material;
4. Never comment on matters outside of your expertise, for
example; being a carpet cleaner does not necessarily make you an
expert on carpet manufacturing/construction or textile fabrics.
5. Should you decide to provide such a report, ensure a proper and
thorough investigation of all relevant issues has been carried out
6. Always seek the comment of a suitably qualified third party on
the contents of your report (supplier, experienced tradesperson,
lawyer) before sending such letters. It is easy to get tunnel vision
and overlook a critical factor or potential for liability to you.
You will have received requests from parties along the lines of “Can you
just jot us a quick line confir ming that ...” It is rarely that simple and such
requests should always trigger the warning bells.
It is of concern that we have come across a number of so-called
‘reports’ which are superficial, poorly worded and in a number of
cases, completely wrong in the conclusions which have been drawn.
It is only a matter of time before someone is taken to task over the
damage caused by such careless and unprofessional behaviour.
In most cases we are operating at the outer limits of our training and
expertise. If in doubt, seek advice from people in the industry who are
qualified to assist or professionals or alternatively, refer the request to
In many cases, the person requesting the report should be prepared
to pay for a proper investigation and report by a suitably qualified
Paul Pritchard is immediate past president of the Carpet Cleaners Association of
New Zealand (CCANZ)
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