What nurtures expert engineers to do the right thing in dispute resolution?

The right thing requires experts to: (Refs 1, 2 and 3)

  1. Be independent from the parties who retain them;
  2. Provide objective, unbiased opinion evidence in relation only to matters within their expertise; and
  3. Avoid assuming the role of advocates for the parties that retain them.


The nurturing doesn’t get any better in Canada than that fostered by The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, and the presence of the iron ring on the working hand of an engineer. (Ref. 4) I thought this on realizing it was 100 years ago that the idea of The Ritual first came to mind and that 2025 is the anniversary of the first ceremony.

In 1922, H. E. T. Haultain, a Montreal engineer proposed the creation of a ceremony emphasizing a standard of ethics for engineers. The idea developed in talks with others at the time. He asked Rudyard Kipling to draft The Ritual after reading Kipling’s poem Sappers about engineers. The iron ring is given the engineer on recital of the Obligation during The Ritual.

You see the iron ring and know a Canadian engineer is wearing it and that’s important. But that’s about all you know because The Ritual is private for engineers and witnessed only by their peers and seniors in the profession.

Following is an abstract of the Obligation the engineer accepts when he answers the Calling. You can google the text in full as accepted by Canadian engineers for the first time in 1925 and most recently this spring, 2022. The iron ring is inferred in the Obligation by reference to Cold Iron:

“During The Ritual the engineer is called to morally agree, to the best of his knowledge and power, not to pass or be privy to passing bad workmanship or faulty material.

Nor refuse his time, thought and care towards the stability and perfection of any works in which he is involved.

He’ll take wages to which he is entitled and guard his reputation. But he will not belittle his fellows.

He knows he will make mistakes and asks forgiveness of his peers and seniors beforehand. He trusts that in the face of temptation the memory of his Obligation agreed to during the The Ritual may return to him to aid.

On his honour and Cold Iron he will abide by these things.”

You get some idea of the import of the Iron Ring on realizing it means more to many engineers than the piece of paper on the wall – the engineering degree. And that it serves as a subtle reminder – continuous nurturing – of The Ritual in which the expert engineer took part and the Obligation accepted.


  1. Stockwood, Q.C., David, Civil Litigation, A Practical Handbook, 5th ed., 2004, Thompson Carswell
  2. Principles governing the cost cost control of dispute resolution and claim settlement involving experts. Posted July 30 2019
  3. Civil procedure rule 55 in Nova Scotia
  4. Google The Ritual of The Calling of An Engineer also the Iron Ring

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada July 14, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

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