Advice for building professionals
Mitigate risk by making sure you enter into the right kinds of contracts.
Managing professional risk
Building professionals such as architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other design/engineering consultants have always operated under a of risk of negligence claims in circumstances where a small design flaw, or an incorrect professional opinion, can lead to major problems downstream in a building site that can be extremely expensive and sometimes impossible to fix. If such a situation arises, then building professionals tend to find themselves named as defendants in expensive negligence claims.
This risk has been dialed up considerably by the introduction of the Building and Design Practitioners Act 2020, which among other things creates a statutory duty of care owed by building professionals to certain owners/beneficiaries of building work.
However, these risks can be substantially mitigated by making sure you enter into the right kinds of contracts.
We routinely advise building professionals on how best to mitigate and control their risk this way. Any building professional should ensure that their own terms and conditions are drafted to minimize risk and liability and allocate it with precision, and should always seek legal advice before signing terms and conditions proposed by a 3rd party. Most of the problems we see are capable of mitigation in the pre-contractual phase, and prevention is always the better part of cure.
We also routinely represent building professionals in litigation if a risk has eventuated, and our substantial experience enables us to get consistently good outcomes for our clients.
Most building professionals are entitled to enforce unpaid debts under security of payment legislation. This is an extraordinarily cheap and quick way of getting paid (relative to the traditional methods of debt recovery via court), is unique to the building industry and should be explored as a first option. SOPA claims are our stock-in-trade.