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Land Surveying Ethics is a discussion forum for issues involving ethics in the practice of Land Surveying.  Every Land Surveyor has faced or will face an ethical problem or concern.  This is where we air it out and compare notes.  What is or is not ethical is sometimes a matter of law, sometimes a matter of opinion, but always a matter of morality.

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This file is a pdf of a presentation delivered by John Matonich, PS at the 2012 Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors Annual Institute.  Posted by permission.

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  • I believe in 3 simple rules for surveyors.

    1) Put the corner where you think is should go, considering all the evidence of it's historical location.

    2) Give the consumer/client the best bang for the buck by searching for supporting evidence.

    3) Follow the rule of "do no harm" by not creating or perpetuating color of title by gaps and overlaps when an intent of common lines could be interpeted by the vesting instruments. (this is a hard one, because some surveyor believe they are serving the better good by forcing their client to fight over a few inches, the better good being the pepetuation of their company, hence pepetuation of surveyors in general) This is counter productive, because surveyors lose the battle of the ratio of service value to money.  Just imagine if the Pharoah's surveyors took months to restake the farmlands of the Nile, losing precious growing time for the owners. We do the same with mapping and court battles.  The KISS rule is applicable especially to boundary surveys.  As with other math based disciplines, the most elegant answer is probably the most correct one.

    • Great question with few responses.  Professional ethics keep you in good standing with clients and the general public.  They also keep you out of court, but what are they?  We need some examples of situations to even get something started.  First off, you have to be kind and friendly.  You can't swear like a drunken sailor when you are around "outsiders."  With your crew in the woods, it might be ok.  Second, you have to be fair not just with your client but with the joiners.  Third, you have to be firm.  To be firm, you need solid evidence.

      I'm dealing with poor ethics now, but not with a surveyor;  My client has poor ethics.  How do you tell a client to stop removing existing markers just because he/she thinks they're wrong.  I have no proof but I know the pins disappeared.  How do I ethically handle this problem?

      Let's keep a discussion going.

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