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Harmony breaks out over new RIBA forms

Critics of the RIBA’s ‘toxic’ Standard Form of Agreement (SFA) have welcomed the launch of an ‘all-new’ suite of agreement documents

Following protests from the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA), the institute has now included a ‘no set off’ clause in its re-drafted and more concise client agreement forms.

The ACA was eventually invited in by the RIBA - alongside a host of other professionals, lawyers and laymen - to help draft revisions to the SFA documents after it repeatedly warned the forms could open up architects to ‘potentially spurious’ grounds for non-payment.

ACA president Brian Waters said: ‘This is a much improved form of agreement and we are pleased to have been able to help the RIBA bring it about.’

Adrian Dobson, director of practice at the RIBA said: ‘The new RIBA Appointment Agreements documents are the result of an extensive review process, carried out over a two-year period, and are widely recognised as industry standard documents with endorsements from respected bodies across the profession.

‘The review group consulted widely with practitioners, construction lawyers and PI insurers to ensure that the revised documents have a sound legal basis, are tailored to contemporary needs and represent exemplary practice.’

The RIBA Appointment Agreements are available to purchase from through RIBA Bookshops, or online through the RIBA Bookshops website:

The documents are also endorsed by the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA), the Royal Institution of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), the Royal Society of Architects in Wales (RSAW) and the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA).

Key changes to the documents include:

  • Recent legislative changes, taking account of the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work Regulations 2008 and the Provision of Services Regulations 2009
  • Revisions to the provisions for termination, which give equal rights to the architect as offered to the client
  • The introduction of the option of an aggregate cap on liability
  • The establishment of the right for the architect to have reasonable access to photograph a project, and to publish images
  • Increased interest charges on the late payment of fees
  • Better clarification in relation to the architect’s right to suspend the copyright license in the event of non-payment of any amounts properly due.

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