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A Legal Guide to the Professional Liability of Architects (3rd Edition)

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Professor Anthony Lavers and Professor David Chapell, £14.99, published by Anthony Lavers.

One might have thought that a book which simply synopsised legal cases was pandering to the dumbing-down process we have heard so much about. No work required on behalf of the reader, just bite-sized chunks of information to be parroted in conversation. Far from it. This is a great source to dip into as a reminder of the changing face of architectural legislation.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since most architects studied legal precedent or read (and understood) JCT contract clauses.

This booklet has certainly encouraged me to refresh my understanding of the law in more detail.

Did you realise, for example that:

'where a contractor deliberately conceals defects, the start of the limitation period will be postponed until the employer discovers them', Gray and Others v TP Bennett & Sons and Others (1987); or 'the architect did not owe a duty of care to an injured workman to ensure safe working arrangements', Clayton v Woodman & Son (19962); but 'an architect owed a duty of care to an injured workman to ensure the safety of allowing an existing wall to remain during work. The architect was not entitled to rely on an inspection by the main contractor, nor upon the opinion of a specialist demolition contractor as substitutes for his own inspection', Clay v A J Crump and Sons (1963); or 'where a contract contains a condition that variations must be in writing, but the employer issues an instruction without written confirmation, the employer may be held to have waived the condition so as not to be able to assert a breach of contract or to refuse payment', Redheugh Construction Ltd v Coyne Contracting Ltd and British Columbia Building Corporation (1997) .

After reading this, many architects will realise that 'there but for the grace of God go I'.

In our increasingly litigious times, it is helpful to be reminded about certain principles of conduct at the outset.

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