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Learning curve

TECHNICAL & PRACTICE: This is the first in a series of articles encouraging readers to try their hand at Part 3 examination past papers

It is that time of year again when Part 3 students start to gear up for their final examinations. Out come the Kim Franklin photocopies, the Architect's Legal Handbook, dusty copies of Ray Cecil's excellent (but out of print) Professional Liability and a variety of tedious guides to JCT contracts. Offices discover lost versions of The Job Book and finally someone gets to read the ARB Standards of Conduct and Practice.

Some offices do the honourable thing and try to train people in the way that legal firms used to do with articled clerks, but many give cursory advice, turn a blind eye and hope for the best.

The fact is that these exams should be seen as part of the continuing professional development of qualified architects - not just a cramming exercise for students.

Done well, it can be a way of reacquainting architects with scientific and strategic ways of thinking, rather than the pragmatism of hurried decision-making.

This revision period is a means of systematically appraising the current state of affairs in the legal world rather than half-remembered stories about Murphy v Brentwood, Donoghue v Stevenson, snails in lemonade and Junior Books. Or was it Junior Melvin? Is it tortious or just tortuous?

Is Anns v Merton still applicable?

In order to encourage practices to engage with Part 3 as an educative process, The Architects' Journal is starting a regular series of past papers, from different examining boards, in the hope that readers of whatever standing can improve their knowledge and assist students with their final exams.

The idea is that staff should sit around in the lunch break, buy a few sandwiches and try to answer the questions. While we are not in a position to 'mark' your answers, we would welcome any feedback on this monthly feature.

THE SCENARIO

You work for a 50-strong architectural practice with a good reputation for leisure buildings.

The office has recently won a competition for a sports centre to serve a nearby large residential development and an existing village.Your practice has now been commissioned to take the project through to completion of production information (Work Stages F-G) with an overall construction and fit-out budget of £15 million, including design fees.

You are the job architect, with two architectural technologists dedicated to the project, which is overseen by the practice partner.

The project is a joint venture between the local authority, which owns the freehold of the site and is contributing funds for an indoor football arena, and a private developer, which built the adjacent residential development and is contributing the funds for a gymnasium and badminton and tennis courts.

An employee of the developer with a very wide knowledge and experience of the construction industry has been appointed to act as the client representative.

QUESTIONS

1.What are the essential requirements for a binding contract, and how might these requirements relate the parties to a professional services contract?

2. What is your understanding of the law of tort? Give an example of potential tortious liability of an architect and how might this be shown and proven?

3. Explain where an architect derives his power to issue instructions under whichever contract you believe will apply in this case.

4. Give a brief account of how you would deal with one of the following situations in relation to the abovementioned scenario with reference to relevant clauses in your chosen contract:

a) The client representative asks you to include a provisional sum for football training equipment at the tender stage.Three months into the construction, he tells you the type of equipment he wishes to be installed.

b) During a routine site inspection, you discover that the contractor has started to build the brickwork with a different type of brick from that in your specification.

5. How would you deal with one of the following situations arising from the aforementioned scenario? Make reference to relevant clauses in your chosen contract and define your terms:

a) Towards the end of construction on site, the client representative asks you to certify Practical Completion as soon as possible to allow the sports centre to open, but you are aware of a number of incomplete sections of work and the services have not been fully commissioned.

b) Shortly before the contractor's programmed date for completion, he applies for an extension of time, due to what he claims is a late issue of fitting-out drawings.You believe a small part of the delay may be legitimate, but note that the contractor has recently confided in you that he actually needs six weeks to complete the scheme.

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