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Architects Negligence

Making a claim against a professionally negligent Architect

If you decide to get involved in a significant construction project such as building your own home, whether it be a new build or major conversion works you may decide to engage the services of an Architect to help you.  After all such projects will often involve significant amounts of money (often borrowed) and so you may decide you want professional help to complete the work to a satisfactory standard; on time; and on budget.

An Architect’s responsibilities can include:

  • Not to take on projects beyond their skill or expertise or ability to administer;
  • The design and preparation of plans;
  • Obtaining Planning Permission;
  • The invitation of tenders/recommendation of contractors;
  • The supervision and administration of works;
  • The certification of the works allowing for contractors’ payments.

What exactly your Architect’s responsibilities are will depend on your retainer (contract) and other contractual documentation associated with the build.  Quite often the terms of the retainer (Architect’s employment/engagement) will be governed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Conditions of Engagement but sometimes less formal arrangements will be in place.

So, if you encounter problems with your construction project you may have an Architects negligence claim, in particular if you experience:

  • Problems with the design or drawings;
  • Failures to ensure Planning Permission has been obtained;
  • An incompetent builder whom the Architect has recommended;
  • A failure by the Architect to adequately inspect or supervise the works;
  • A failure to correctly certify.

Our professional negligence team of lawyers will be able to advise you if you encounter any of these problems or indeed any other that you believe that have arisen as a result of your Architect’s conduct.

We will help determine exactly what contractual relationship existed between you.  We will then determine what duties your Architect owed you and whether they have been breached.  If those duties have been breached we will help you identify the loss or potential losses you have suffered.  We can then consider how best to pursue this claim and the likely cost.

Sometimes even when the builder appears to be at fault, for example in the case of defective works, it may still be possible to sue the Architect.  Indeed, sometimes this may be the only option if the builder is in financial difficulties given that an Architect will generally have insurance that will cover claims against them.

Our aim is to give you as clear a picture of how strong your claim is and how much it is worth as soon as possible, and in any event before you take a decision to take proceedings.  Although sometimes, particularly in complex matters, a specialist Barrister’s input will be needed.

As Architects are generally insured for the consequences of their mistakes/breaches of contract you can have a degree of confidence that if you have to bring a claim and you are successful you should be able to recover the full amount of damages and costs awarded.

If we feel you have a good prospect of success and the value of your claim is sufficient we will be prepared to consider acting for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement – sometimes known as “No win, no fee”.

Sometimes though an Architect’s service, whilst inadequate, may not amount to negligence or an actionable breach of contract.  If this is the case you still may have grounds to bring a complaint through their professional body either the Architects Regulation Board (ARB) or RIBA - we can assist.

Please note these organisations are unable to make awards of compensation/damages for professional negligence and may decline to investigate/deal with the complaint if a claim is being pursued.

Cases of interest.

Pratt -v- George J. Hall [1987] 37 BLR 145

Architect held liable for failure of a contractor – who was a total disaster – that he had recommended as being “very reliable”.  In this case the Claimant was not only able to claim her losses associated with the defective works but also the costs of litigation against the contractor prior to their insolvency.

Professional negligence claims against an architect call for specialist legal advice from experienced solicitors.  To make an appointment to discuss your claim, contact Nigel Kinder on 01278 454414 or freephone 0800 862 0442. Alternatively, complete our online enquiry form and we'll call you back as soon as possible.
 

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