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Don't lose hope over SFA/99's inadequacies

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Regarding Paul Hyett's ar t icles (AJ 20.4.00 and 27.4.00) on site inspection duties and SFA/99, I fear he is right about the inadequacies of the provisions in SFA/99 about the site inspection.

However, the law does g ive arch itects some assistance, following a case called South Australia Asset Management, involving claims against surveyors for losses caused by the collapse of the property market in 1990.

It established the principle that the standard duty owed to the client can be greater or less depending on the purpose of the advice given. So, an adviser who merely provides information will be in a different position to one who gives a 'green light' to a project as a whole.

This can help architects to restrict their liability to clients - if the terms of appointment with the client are approached properly. This vital correspondence must be right. For instance:

Refer in your correspondence to 'inspec t ing genera l ly' Define the scope of services Use a net contribution clause CE/99 issued by RIBA in association with the Association of Consultant Architects and others takes a broadly similar approach but is significantly better in certain respects.

By all means, if you have a taste for professional politics, do lobby your drafting committees to get these unsatisfactory provisions changed. In the meantime I can't promise lawyers won't make fortunes out of the poor drafting of your profession's appointments.

If you have site inspection issues on an actual job then here's a more practical action plan to consider: Join the Association of Consultant Architects

Get your appointments right; use CE/99 Use our helpline for members of the ACA for advice on appointments - or any other legal matters; Speak to me by telephoning 0161 228 3702.

Hilary Nicholls, Davies Wallis Foyster, Manchester

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