question and answer
Answer all of the following questions, which are based on the material covered in Weeks 1-6.
This assessment may be done as a group exercise with groups comprising no more than 3 students.
Question 1 10 marks 500 words
Engineers Australia’s National Congress approved a new Code of Ethics and Guidelines on Professional Conduct in 2010. The Code explains:
‘In the course of engineering profession we will:
[Note: The 2010 Code is also uploaded to Moodle]
Watch the 4 Corners “Catastrophic Failure” documentary on the following link:-
Assume you are working as a civil engineer in a top managerial position with BHP Billiton Ltd and have been tasked with analysing the above Samarco case from an ethical perspective. Critically appraise the utility of the above ethical framework in your capacity as manager to respond to that dilemma. Comment on the importance of securing ethical values and principles through an appropriate regulatory framework.
Note: You are required to refer to the 2010 Engineers Code of Ethics and the concepts discussed in LAWS20061 course materials from Topic 2 Ethics for Managers.
Question 2 10 marks 500 words
‘The law reflects the changes that are occurring in society and can be an instrument for change, such as in the area of law reform. Recognising that legal rules are changeable, managers should be active in bringing about beneficial changes that enhance business activity. Managers should also utilise the law as a valuable tool to carry out and achieve management goals.’
(L Griggs, E Clarke and I Iredale, Manager and the Law, 3rd ed, Lawbook Co Thompson Reuters, 2009, p 15.)
In view of your comments in relation to the Samarco case discussed in Question 1 above, the board of BHP Billiton Ltd has now instructed you to provide proposals for them to consider at the upcoming meeting. You need to advise the board in your managerial capacity at BHP Billiton Ltd such recommendations from a legal perspective that can bring about beneficial changes so as to enhance the business activity of the company. Set out your recommendations to the board based on the ethical framework you utilised in Question 1 in light of the Samarco case.
Question 3 10 marks 750 words
BetterCar Ltd (“BC”) is an Australian company involved in the manufacturing of cars for worldwide consumers. Its Head Office is located in Melbourne, Australia and its main production plant is in Melbourne as well. Recently it developed a self-driving car called the T2016 model that can drive itself using “Self-Drive” technology designed in-house by the company’s engineers. The T2016 model has been selling in large numbers to various Australian buyers and the company has plans to offer the T2016 for sale overseas in the next few months. BC hopes to incorporate new and novel technology from Germany and Japan in the coming years that can potentially make the T2016 model a worldwide best seller for its class.
BC insists that all buyers of the T2016 car have to sign a contract to purchase the car that incorporates (amongst other things) the following clauses:-
“You must at all times keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the steering wheel and be prepared to take over the “Self-Drive” mode despite it being activated at any time.”
“In the event of any claim for breach of contract, the manufacturer’s liability for damages will not exceed $5,000”.
Tom who represents the Australian Olympic rowing team recently purchased a T2016 car for $20,000 and in his haste to drive his new car, signed the purchase contract without reading it. The BC car salesperson Jill, had encouraged him to take his time to read the contract and even tried to explain those clauses to him before he signed the agreement. Tom however was not interested in what she had to say and instead he proceeded to take delivery of his new car.
One day he activated the “Self-Drive” mode whilst travelling along the highway from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. Due to his rigorous exercise regime in preparation for the Olympics, he was extremely tired that fateful day when he fell asleep in the driver’s seat and the car met with an accident.
It was later acknowledged by BC that the “Self-Drive” mode on that particular car was faulty due to the carelessness of one of its engineers who failed to check the wiring. As a consequence of the loose wiring, the “Self-Drive” mode was momentarily disabled and his car crashed into a ditch. Unfortunately for Tom, he sustained leg and arm injuries from the accident that would prevent him from competitive sport for the rest of his life. His brand new T2016 car was completely written off due to the accident. Tom is obviously very distressed and is suing BC for breach of contract.
Upon hearing of the accident, many local customers that have purchased the T2016 model are seeking a full refund of their purchases. There is mounting local community concern over the use of the “Self-Drive” mode in the T2016 model on public roads for fear that lives of the innocent public may be at risk.The Australian government is considering investigating the potentially lax manufacturing practices that may have taken place at the BC production plant. Governments overseas such as the United States, China and India to name a few, are considering banning the future imports of the T2016 model until further assurance is obtained from BC about the safety of its “Self-Drive” technology.
You are employed as a manager at BC and the Senior Vice-President has asked you to draft a memorandum outlining BC’s rights and responsibilities according to the Australian law of contract. As you are employed by BC, analyse from the perspective of BC.
Note: You are required to support your answers to Question 3 with reference to Australian contract case law and as appropriate, any relevant legislation that you have studied.