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Privy Council may be asked to rule on CIWEM's consultancy venture

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THE ASSOCIATION of Consulting Engineers is threatening to report the Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management to the Privy Council over its plans to set up a consultancy business.

ACE is also considering taking the matter to the Office of Fair Trading unless it can be convinced that the new venture is not competing with its members.

ACE chief executive Nicholas Bennett this week agreed to meet CIWEM representatives in a final attempt to clarify the position of the venture, called CIWEM Consulting. The meeting is expected to take place within the next two weeks.

CIWEM claims that the new venture is no more than a database and is not set up to compete with consulting firms. It says CIWEM Consulting is being established to pick up work arising from enquiries made to CIWEM by clients.

The venture will earn a 5% fee for taking on the work, most of which will then be subcontracted to CIWEM members (NCE 2 December).

Before Christmas the ACE Members Services Committee voted to authorise Bennett to report CIWEM to the Privy Council and the Office of Fair Trading.

CIWEM executive director Nick Reeves wrote to Bennett over Christmas seeking a meeting to clarify CIWEM Consulting's position.

'We were exchanging a fair amount of correspondence and not getting very far,' said Reeves.

He said that CIWEM had checked out its position before setting up the consulting venture. He said that a decision by the ACE to go to the Privy Council or the OFT was 'a matter for them'.

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