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BAA attacks professional insurance for culture of blame

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Airports operator and £400-million-a-year construction client BAA last week criticised architects' use of professional indemnity insurance (PII) as a 'cop out' and 'unhelpfu l' .

BAA board member and director of technical services Mike Roberts said: 'For clients PII is a cop out.We are taking the risk [of problems on a scheme] so it is ridiculous to have lawyers and others talking about who is liable.'

BAA claims that PII encourages a culture of blame between contractors and consultants on project teams.

'PII distorts and modifies behaviour in a way that isn't helpful for the project because it isn't open and isn't inclusive, 'Roberts said.

BAA design director Mike Forster also attacked PII and said that in a closely integrated team it becomes difficult to identify whose insurance should cover a particular problem.

Currently, the Architects Registration Board's rules insist that all practising architects be insured. But the new Confederation of Construction Clients, which includes big spenders such as Railtrack and McDonald's, is set to investigate ways this could be changed, Roberts revealed.

Meanwhile, BAA has pared down its list of framework agreement architects from five to two. Geoffrey Reid Associates, Kohn Pedersen Fox and HOK have been dropped while GMW Partnership and Pascall & Watson remain on the list. However, Geoffrey Reid was recently appointed to design all of BAA's Scottish projects and HOK is still working on Terminal Five at Heathrow with Richard Rogers Partnership as concept architect.

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