Have you instructed an architect in a residential or commercial property development? Has bad advice from an architect caused significant delays in the building project or caused you to suffer financial loss, property damage or required further building works to rectify the mistake(s)?
An architect’s firm will usually have professional indemnity insurers who will often instruct a specialist City of London law firm to defend claims vigorously and therefore it is essential to take legal advice at the outset from our expert professional negligence team.
Complaint about an architect?
Architects are highly trained and regulated by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). All members at RIBA are mandated to follow the Code of Professional Conduct (with a new code effective from 1 May 2019). Core principles include acting with integrity; keeping the client informed; record keeping; inspection services; building performance and certification.
RIBA have an alternative dispute resolution process including arbitration, adjudication and mediation. However, in order to protect legal rights from expiring, it is vital to seek legal advice at the outset of any dispute first to consider your options before considering making a formal complaint to RIBA.
How do I prove that my architect has been negligent?
Like all negligence actions, in order to claim compensation, the following three elements need to be made out by a claimant to prove the tort of negligence against an architect:
- Duty of care – The defendant architect/architect firm owed the claimant a duty not to cause the type of harm suffered.
- Breach of duty – The architect breached the duty owed.
- Causation – This has two elements, both of which must be proved ie (a) factual causation in that the claimant must prove, but for the defendant’s negligence, they would not have suffered loss and (b) legal causation or remoteness in that the defendant’s negligence was the legal cause of loss.
Common examples of negligence by an architect
- Failing to obtain any or the correct planning permissions (for a development, listed building consent, conservation area consent, or compliance with building regulations).
- Failing to properly manage a building project (for example providing ineffective on-site supervision during a construction).
- Failing to supervise a building project effectively.
- Outsourcing a task to a third party contractor who does not perform the job required with due care and skill.
- Providing incorrect property drawings or plans.
How long do I have to start a professional negligence claim against an architect?
There are strict time limits in place for commencing a claim against a negligent architect.
The limitation period for suing a professional in tort is usually six years from the date the cause of action accrued and/or the loss was suffered (section 2, Limitation Act 1980).
The time limit for suing a professional for breach of contract is six years from the date of the breach of contract (section 5, Limitation Act 1980).
Alternatively, section 14 of the Limitation Act 1980 provides that in certain circumstances a claim could start three years from the earliest date on which the Claimant had both the knowledge required for bringing a claim for damages in respect of the relevant damage and a right to bring such a claim.
Therefore, limitation can be a complex issue in a claim with multiple different limitation dates. It is vital to seek legal advice as soon as you become aware that you could have a claim against the potential negligent architect.
Case study: Successful claim against a consultant architect
The claimants were personal friends with the negligent consultant architect in question. The architect agreed to project manage the redevelopment of the claimants’ garden for free (the project had a budget of over £100,000). However, the redevelopment project was mis-managed by the architect and the claimants claimed for the cost of the necessary remedial works.
This was an interesting and unusual case as it was first necessary to have a trial of preliminary issues in order to establish the relationship between the parties i.e. was a contract ever concluded between the parties and did the architect owe the claimants a duty of care in tort?
Although the court found that there was no contractual duty (as there was no consideration amongst other factors), there was in fact a tortious duty of care owed by the architect because the architect had special skills which the claimants had relied upon.
Therefore, the key takeaway from the case was that even when professional services are provided for free to a friend, a duty of care may still be owed if the professional assumes responsibility (in this case this was demonstrated by the length of time the services were provided for; the commitment that the architect had given to the garden redevelopment project and the significant expenditure by the claimants for the project).
Book an Initial Consultation with our Architect Negligence Lawyers
Do you have a claim against an architect? If you want expert legal advice, do not delay in instructing us so we can assess the legal merit of your case.
We can often take on such claims against architects on a no win no fee basis (such as a Conditional Fee Arrangement) once we have discussed the claim with you and then assessed and advised you on the merits of the proposed professional negligence action.
Our expert legal team of leading Professional Negligence Solicitors & Barristers can provide urgent help, advice or representation to you. Just call our Professional Negligence Lawyers on 02071830529 or email us now.
Instruct Specialist Professional Negligence Solicitors
We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers operating from the only law firm based in the Middle Temple Inn of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice. Our team have expertise in advising on claims for compensation against professionals that have fallen below the standard expected, which causes clients financial or personal loss.
We are experienced in bringing successful claims against negligent solicitors, barristers, financial advisers, surveyors, valuers, architects, tax advisers and IFAs.