UK: The Designer’s Duty – Time For Review

Last Updated: 28 January 2009
Article by Alexander Nissen QC


To understand their risk exposure fully, architects, engineers and other construction professionals engaged in design work need to know the extent of their design liability. 'Extent' for these purposes means two things: what they are obliged to do, and for how long that obligation continues.

By its very nature, design is not a static concept. The notion of design development is well-understood. Sometimes, the need to alter the design exceeds mere development and involves a reappraisal of aspects of the original design concept. On an ongoing project, a variety of matters can occur which require reconsideration of the original design. Sometimes these events can occur after completion.

This paper is concerned with the extent of the duty to revisit or review the original design and seeks to examine the following questions in the light of recent developments in case law:

  1. What does the duty to review a design comprise?
  2. How long does the duty to review a design last?
  3. What are the legal consequences of breach of the duty to review a design in the sense of damages claimable?

For simplicity, the notional designer selected in this paper is the architect, though the same considerations apply equally to engineers and other construction professionals undertaking design.

1. What Does The Duty To Review A Design Comprise?

It has long been established that an architect has a duty to review his design. The writer has previously analysed the cases which established this principle.1 The Court of Appeal in Brickfield Properties v Newton held that, 'The architect is under a continuing duty to check that his design will work in practice and to correct any errors which may emerge.'2

This principle has been applied in a number of well known construction cases since. HHJ Stabb QC in London Borough of Merton v Lowe declared himself '... now satisfied that the architect's duty of design is a continuing one',3 while HHJ Newey QC in Equitable Debenture Assets Corporation v William Moss Group stated that,

'Morgan's obligation to design International House was not, I think, a once and for all obligation, performed when a complete set of working drawings, which included Alpine's, was sent to Moss [the main contractor]. Morgan had both the right and the duty to check their initial design as work proceeded and to correct it if necessary.'4

In University of Glasgow v William Whitfield, HHJ Bowsher QC also spoke of the duty to design as 'a continuing duty.'5

What obligations are comprehended in the duty to review must, in part, depend on what the architect has agreed to do within the envelope of his professional duty. What he has been originally engaged to do must be expected to have an effect on the nature of the continuing duty, if only because the opportunities for review will be so different.

In the early cases, the judges still spoke routinely of 'supervision' of the project. Thus in Victoria University of Manchester v Hugh Wilson HHJ Newey QC explained the architect's contractual and tortious duties as:

'... to exercise the skill and care to be expected of a competent architect in designing the Centre, in supervising its construction and, when and if necessary, reviewing and amending the design.'6 [emphasis added]

More recently, it could not be taken for granted that the architect would have undertaken a duty of supervision. In the RIBA standard form conditions of engagement, the word 'supervision' has been conspicuously absent for some 25 years. It is true that in some more modern cases like Alexander Corfield v David Grant, HHJ Bowsher QC could still be found referring to 'supervision'.7 However, that appears to have been based on implied terms of engagement. More typical today would be Consarc Design v Hutch Investments, where the same judge observed that while

'The older forms of contract required the architect to "supervise". The more recent contracts including the contract in this case, require the architect to "visit the Works to inspect the progress and quality of the Works".'8

His conclusion was that, 'It seems to me that inspection is a lesser responsibility than supervision.'9

It may be readily conceded that engineers do still undertake supervision,10 that architects in many jurisdictions have statutory obligations of supervision11 and that UK architects could still undertake supervision expressly or by implication.12 But it seems logical that the 'lesser responsibility' of inspection would afford fewer opportunities for a review of the design than a full supervision obligation. It is surely beyond question that an architect who undertook design services only and had no part in the construction phase must be regarded differently in terms of ongoing responsibility. If that is right, it would follow that different levels – and different durations – of a duty to review would attach to different packages of professional services to be supplied.

In Tesco Stores v The Norman Hitchcox Partnership,13 the architect had been engaged to design shell works but was not involved in the site-based phase of the works whilst the building contract was in progress. Later he was engaged by Tesco in respect of the fitting out works of the completed development. HHJ Esyr Lewis QC said that such latter engagement could not enlarge the contractual duties under the original retainer to design the shell works. As to the latter, he had a continuing contractual obligation to answer reasonable queries about his drawings which might have arisen during the construction period and to draw attention to and, if necessary, correct any deficiency of which he became aware during that period.

Precisely what it is that the architect must do as part of his obligation to review was addressed in the Technology and Construction Court in New Islington and Hackney Housing Association v Pollard Thomas and Edwards.14 In that case, Dyson J (as he then was) found that the extent of the duty would indeed depend upon what the designer had originally undertaken. The case concerned serious noise disturbance experienced by tenants in a housing association development as a result of inadequate sound insulation between flats. Since it was in dispute whether the claim against the architects was out of time, it became crucial to establish when the cause of action accrued.

Dyson J began his consideration, the most detailed undertaken of the issue, by accepting the proposition that 'a designer who also supervises or inspects work will generally be obliged to review that design up until that design has been included in the work', and noting that, 'In a number of cases, it has been held that this duty continues until practical completion.'15

Even at this stage Dyson J added the caveat that, '... it is necessary to look at the circumstances of each engagement ...'16

His view of the Sachs LJ dictum in Brickfield Properties17 is enlightening:

'But Sachs LJ was not concerned to explore the scope of an architect's continuing duty to review his design. In my judgment, the duty does not require the architect to review any particular aspect of the design that he has already completed unless he has good reasons for so doing.'18 [emphasis added]

Dyson J also took a restrictive view of Judge Bowsher's comments in the University of Glasgow case19 stating:

'I do not believe that Judge Bowsher was stating a general principle that an architect is usually under a duty to review his design even after practical completion. I think that his decision was heavily coloured by the special facts of the case. In my view, that case should be regarded as an example of an architect agreeing to investigate the cause of defects in a building outside the terms of his original retainer, and not as an example of the performance of a continuing duty to review his design under the original contract of engagement.'20 [emphasis added]

So what are the circumstances in which the architect must review his design? The earlier cases had led the writer to conclude that some form of trigger event was necessary and it was not sufficient merely to point to the fact of the architect's continuing involvement in the project.

Thus HHJ Stabb QC in Merton v Lowe, while describing the duty of design as 'a continuing one', qualified this by reference to '... the subsequent discovery of a defect in the design, initially and justifiably thought to have been suitable' the effect of which was that it 'reactivated or revived the architect's duty in relation to design and imposed upon them the duty to take such steps as where necessary to correct the results of that initially defective design.'21 [emphasis added]

It is true that HHJ Newey QC in Equitable Debenture Assets Corporation had referred to an obligation to design by the architects which included 'the duty to check their initial design as work proceeded and to correct it if necessary'22 [emphasis added]. However it should be recalled that on the facts, the sealant of the curtain walling (whose erroneous specification lay at the heart of the problem) had failed from the start, so that the 'buildability' difficulties experienced by the contractors had been known to the architect for many months. In other words, it should not be assumed that HHJ Newey QC was suggesting the duty to review the design arose automatically in the absence of a trigger event.

More obviously consistent with Merton v Lowe23 was the qualification of HHJ Newey QC in the Victoria University of Manchester case to the effect that the architect's duties included 'when and if necessary, reviewing and amending the design.'24

Similarly, HH Judge Bowsher QC in the University of Glasgow case was concerned with the situation '... where, as here, an architect has had drawn to his attention that damage has resulted from a design which he knew or ought to have known was bad from the start ...'25 In such circumstances, the designer would have 'a particular duty to his client to disclose what he had been under a continuing duty to reveal, namely what he knows of the design defects as possible causes of the problem.'26

The writer previously concluded that it would be wholly artificial to suggest that, absent a trigger event, the architect should be under a continuing duty to look at and review his design. This conclusion was consistent with that subsequently reached by Dyson J in New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, where he considered the practical implications with a hypothetical example of negligent foundation design:

'But in what sense and to what extent is the architect under a duty to review his negligent design once the foundations have been designed and constructed? In my view, in the absence of an express term or express instructions, he is not under a duty specifically to review the design of the foundations unless something occurs to make it necessary, or at least prudent, for a reasonably competent architect to do so.'27

Dyson J gave examples of 'triggers' of the duty such as if:

'... before completion, the inadequacy of the foundations causes the building to show signs of distress; or if the architect reads an article which shows that the materials that he has specified for the foundations are not fit for their purpose; or if he learns from some other source that the design is dangerous.'28

In such circumstances of actual knowledge, Dyson J was in 'no doubt that the architect would be under a duty to review the design and, if necessary, issue variation instructions to the contractor to remedy the problem.'29

On the facts, Dyson J rejected the suggestion that a trigger event had actually occurred. All that had happened was that, once the problem of soundproofing had become apparent after practical completion, the employer had asked two discrete questions about the soundproofing specification which the architect had answered. Given that the architect's engagement was over, it was not incumbent on him to do anything else, such as revisit the quality of his original design.

In summary, Dyson J's analysis resolves two questions and leaves one unresolved. First, it shows that the absence of a trigger would be fatal to the claim:

'But in the absence of some such reasons as this [the examples set out above], I do not think that an architect who has designed and supervised the construction of foundations is thereafter under an obligation to review his design.'30

Second, it is now clear that the existence of a duty to review must depend upon some continuing involvement with the project after the design stage, at least in contract:

'Whether he is in fact under such a duty when he has actual or constructive knowledge of his earlier breach of contract will depend on whether the contract is still being performed. If the contract has been discharged (for whatever reason), then the professional person may be under a duty in tort to advise his client of his earlier breach of contract, but it is difficult to see how he can be under any contractual duty to do so.'31 [emphasis added]

This latter proposition is supported by the views of Ramsey J in Oxford Architects Partnership v Cheltenham Ladies College (discussed further below) in which he said:

'If an architect merely carries out a design which is issued to a contractor for construction then it is difficult for a continuing duty to arise during the period of construction.'32

The point which Dyson J did not, it is submitted, resolve conclusively is whether an architect is liable for breach of duty where he is actually wholly unaware of the trigger event and therefore genuinely fails to realise that there was a design problem when reasonable skill and care would have enabled him to do so. An example might be the architect who subsequently should have become aware of an article in a journal condemning the use of certain materials which he had specified in the past, in circumstances where the architect had no actual knowledge of the article.

The nearest Dyson J came to expressing a view on this point was in holding:

'In my judgment, the duty does not require the architect to review any particular aspect of the design that he has already completed unless he has good reason for so doing. What is a good reason must be determined objectively, and the standard is set by reference to what a reasonably competent architect would do in the circumstances.'33

The importation of the Bolam34 standard of reasonable skill and care suggests the likely answer, but the previous cases had dealt only with situations where a trigger had occurred to the architect's knowledge, not circumstances where the architect was completely unaware of the trigger event.

It may be that HHJ Humphrey LLoyd QC's decision in Payne v Setchell took this last point closer to conclusion. The formulation of his finding was that:

'... a designer's continuing duty of care only requires a reconsideration of the design if the designer becomes aware or should have been aware of the need to reconsider the design'.35 [emphasis added]

That said, the point does not appear to have been fully argued in that case.

In Oxford Architects Partnership, Ramsey J also applied the standard of reasonable care to the duty to review, once it had been triggered:

'In terms of a breach of contract, if an architect has good reason to review any aspect of the design then a breach will occur if the architect fails to review the design or if the architect reviews the design but fails to do so properly in accordance with the terms of engagement.'36

Whilst this relates to the standard to be applied once the duty arises, these words might also be extended to the test for determining whether the duty arises.

The indications are, therefore, that a duty to review can arise even if the architect has no actual knowledge of the trigger event, although in practice he usually will.

Many of the previous cases, including New Islington and Hackney Housing Association37 in particular, were concerned with trigger events which occurred after the original design had been fully implemented. In Oxford Architects Partnership, it became relevant to consider when the duty to review a design arose during the normal RIBA stages.

In that context, Ramsey J attempted to dispel what he called 'some confusion' over the effect of the continuing duty to review as a cause of action. Part of this confusion lies in the ambiguous terminology of a 'continuing duty to review a design' when, in truth, it is no such thing:

'If an architect produces a design which is in breach of the terms of engagement and issues it to the contractor who constructs the work to that design, then a breach of contract will occur when, for instance, the architect under Stages F to G "prepares production drawings" or under Stage J "provides production information" as required by the building contract, a cause of action will then accrue based upon that breach of contract.'38

However, the so-called 'continuing duty' would not

'... give rise to a single and continually accruing cause of action. Rather, a different cause of action accrues at various stages. Thus, the cause of action for a failure properly to review the design is a different cause of action from a failure to provide a proper design in the first place. The causes of action will therefore accrue on different dates.'39

As the editors of the Building Law Reports point out in their Commentary, this may present practical difficulties in determining whether the architect is under a continuing duty to review the design up until the date of completion of the negligently designed work.

'Once an architect has completed his design, an obligation to 'review' might well occur at various stages of the architect's engagement. For example, the design may be submitted for regulatory approval, will be issued for construction and may be passed to a specialist sub-contractor to enable that specialist to prepare a more detailed design and working drawings. Whilst there may be many opportunities for reconsidering the design, the relevant question is whether the architect is under some obligation to review the design.'40

In other words, is a trigger event required to activate the duty to revisit the original design at each of these stages? Despite these difficulties in individual cases, Ramsey J's analysis should be seen as an advance in understanding the nature of the designer's duty to review his original design.

2. How Long Does The Duty To Review A Design Last?

When considering the question of whether, at a given point in time, the architect still has 'responsibility' for the design, it is important to distinguish between duty and liability. In other words, the term 'responsibility' must be used with caution because it can be used synonymously with either of those terms. As a matter of practicality, the architect will wish to know the duration of his duty, ie the period during which he must be active to protect the client's interests (and in principle those of third parties within the more limited scope of the tort of negligence). One might speak commonly of his 'responsibilities' continuing during this period. But, as should be apparent to a lawyer, at least, this is potentially quite different from the duration of the architect's responsibility for review of design, in the sense of duration of liability.

The early cases sought to address the issue of duration in the first sense described, but must now be seen in the light of the most recent judicial pronouncements. HHJ Bowsher's view in University of Glasgow was that the continuing duty of design extends until the building is complete.41 HHJ Hicks QC, in Chesham Properties Ltd v Bucknall Austin Project Management Services approved '... what I take to be the thrust of Judge Bowsher's views, as expressed in the University Court of Glasgow case' and said that 'I consider that such a duty would continue until the relevant defendant's engagement on the project came to an end.'42

As set out above, in New Islington and Hackney Housing Association43 Dyson J observed that the designer who supervises or inspects will be advised to review his design up until that design has been included in the work, although he noted that the duty has in some cases continued until practical completion.

From a lawyer's perspective, the issue of importance is the duration of liability in respect of the duty to review. This is a matter of limitation and specifically when the cause of action occurs. In this respect, different considerations apply in contract and tort.

In contract, the limitation period runs from the date of breach. As Ramsey J said in Oxford Architects Partnership, there may be several different breaches of a failure to review, each occurring on different dates.44

Dyson J was very clear about a claim in tort in the New Islington case: 'In my judgment, the Association's cause of action in negligence accrued at the latest at the date of practical completion.'45 His reasoning was based on what he called 'interpretation' by the Court of Appeal46 of the difficult decision of Pirelli General Cable Works Ltd v Oscar Faber & Partners.47 As applied to the case before him, this led to the following result:

'In the present case, the sound insulation was inadequate from the date of handover. It was never capable of being fit for the purpose ... From the outset, the building suffered from lack of adequate sound insulation, just as the building in Tozer Kemsley suffered from an inadequate heating and air-conditioning plant from the outset. In neither case is it necessary to identify a date when an occupant actually suffers from the defect. It is the building that suffers from the defect, and that is what is required to enable the owner to complete his cause of action in negligence.'48

The conclusion was that 'the Association's cause of action accrued when the buildings were handed over',49 ie at practical completion.

In the Building Law Reports Commentary to Oxford Architects Partnership,50 we are reminded that the first question which has to be answered is whether the loss is properly describable as physical damage or pure economic loss.51 In all tort cases, the limitation period runs from the date of damage and it is in this context that the question arises. Ramsey J reviewed the cases, including Abbott v Will Gannon & Smith,52 in which the case of Pirelli53 was stated to remain good law. On the facts, Ramsey J concluded that relevant damage in respect of the defects with which he was concerned occurred during the course of construction. He noted that although the employer does not obtain possession of the building until practical completion there is a complete cause of action when and if physical damage occurs before that date.

An unusual feature of the Oxford Architects Partnership case concerned Article 5 of the RIBA Conditions of Engagement,54 which provided that:

'No action or proceedings for any breach of this Agreement or arising out of or in connection with all or any of the Services undertaken by the Architect in or pursuant to this Agreement, shall be commenced against the Architect after the expiry of [six] years from completion of the Architect's Services, or, where the Services are specific to building projects Stages K-L are provided by the Architect, from the date of Practical Completion of the Project.'55

It was argued that this clause permitted the College to bring a claim that was otherwise time barred provided it did so within six years of practical completion. On this point, Ramsey J's conclusions were very clear: the clause

'... provides a contractual time limit on the College's ability to commence proceedings. It does not seek to prevent the Architects from relying on a statutory limitation defence, rather it is concerned with providing an additional contractual limitation on the ability of the College to bring a claim.'56

Ramsey J has usefully clarified the relationship between contract and statute. Article 5 did not have the effect of allowing the client to sue up to six years after practical completion in circumstances where the claim would otherwise have been statute barred. He agreed that a limitation period could be extended by contract, which is a welcome confirmation of the principle that has always been understood, namely that parties can agree by contract whatever they want, but 'To do that I consider clear words would be needed.'57 Equally, he noted that it is possible by contract to reduce the limitation period, and in this case Article 5 provided 'an additional contractual limitation on the ability of the College to bring proceedings.'58

3. What Are The Legal Consequences Of Breach Of Duty To Review Design In The Sense Of Damages Claimable?

The writer's original article in 1997 concluded that:

'The damages recoverable from the architect or engineer are not those which flow from any original error in design, but from the failure to review the design. Such damages are likely to be more limited than appears at first sight.'59

If this was right, it would have serious consequences for a claimant, since the loss and damage might be held to have been caused by the original design error, potentially a time-barred claim, while the later breach of the continuing duty would not be causative of loss, although the claim in respect of it was still within the limitation period.

A similar view was expressed by Jackson and Powell in their leading work on Professional Negligence which stated:

'It is submitted that the contractual measure of damages for failure to review a design where a claim in respect of the original design obligations is Statute barred should be such as to put a claimant into the position that he would have been in if the design had been properly reviewed. Thus if the failure to review occurred after practical completion a claimant should be obliged to give credit for the (possibly substantial) costs which would have been incurred at that stage in correcting the design.'60

That paragraph was approved by HHJ Toulmin CMG QC in London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority v Halcrow Gilbert Associates.61

It therefore seems that damages following a failure to review a design are likely to be relatively small, save for cases where there is damage to other property.


This paper set out to consider three questions relating to the designer's duty to review design.

1. What Does The Duty To Review A Design Comprise?

There is unlikely to be a duty without a 'trigger', such as knowledge of a structural problem or other reason to doubt the design's adequacy in hindsight. Whether failure to even appreciate the existence of a problem could be sufficient is not conclusively decided. The better view is that it could, given lack of reasonable care and skill in assessment or omission to assess (Payne v Setchell62). Following the trigger, the duty is to check the initial design, correct it if possible and issue any necessary instructions to the contractor for remedial works. The standard to be met in this further work would be that of the ordinary competent practitioner. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association63 contains the most detailed consideration of this aspect. Following Oxford Architects Partnership,64 it can be stated clearly that a 'continuing' duty will almost never exist where the original services undertaken were limited to design. Services equating to RIBA Work Stages K-L would be required in order to found the duty. A duty to review design is separate from the original design obligation; the description of a 'continuing' duty may be unhelpful. Breach of the review duty is a separate cause of action, depending on what the architect has been asked to do.

2. How Long Does The Duty To Review A Design Last?

The duty to review would not continue beyond practical completion, in the absence of special facts. After that, a trigger event would be required.

The duration of liability (as opposed to duty) is governed by the limitation legislation. The Oxford Architects Partnership case confirms that the parties can vary the limitation periods upwards or downwards by agreement, although very clear express words would be necessary to permit a longer period than is provided by the statute.

3. What Are The Legal Consequences Of Breach Of Duty To Review Design In The Sense Of Damages Claimable?

In most cases, where the claim is based on the cost of repair of the defectively designed item itself, quantum is likely to be small if the duty to review accrued after the construction work has been completed. That is because the cost of the work will already have been incurred: see London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.65

The position will be different if damages are claimed not merely in respect of the building itself but also in respect of other property, for example following a flood or fire caused by a failure to review the design.


1. Alexander Nissen, The duty to review a design – is it real or artificial? Const LJ 1997, 13(4), pages 221-6.

2. Brickfield Properties v Newton [1971] 1 WLR 862, CA, per Sachs LJ at page 873F (also [1971] 3 AllER 328).

3. London Borough of Merton v Lowe (1981) 18 BLR 130, CA, noted in the Commentary, page 133.

4. Equitable Debenture Assets Corporation Ltd v William Moss Group Ltd (1984) 2 Con LR 1, TCC, at page 24.

5. University of Glasgow v William Whitfield (1988) 42 BLR 66, QBD(OR), at page 78 (also (1989) 5 Const LJ 73).

6. Victoria University of Manchester v Hugh Wilson (1984) 2 Con LR 43, at page 73.

7. Alexander Corfield v David Grant (1992) 59 BLR 102, QBD(OR), at page 119 (also 29 Con LR 58).

8. Consarc Design Ltd v Hutch Investments Ltd (2002) 84 Con LR 36, TCC, at para 88 (also (2003) 19 Const LJ 91).

9. Consarc Design, see note 8, at para 88.

10. See for example Department of National Heritage v Steenson Varming Mulcahy (1998) 60 Con LR 33.

11. Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong SAR, for example.

12. For a full consideration of the duties involved in inspecting the quality of work, see McGlinn v Waltham Contractors Ltd (No 3) [2007] EWHC 149, TCC (111 Con LR 1).

13. Tesco Stores Ltd v The Norman Hitchcox Partnership Ltd (1997) 56 Con LR 42, QBD(OR).

14. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association Ltd v Pollard Thomas and Edwards Ltd [2001] BLR 74, TCC (also 85 Con LR 194, 17 Const LJ 55).

15. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 14. He cited Equitable Debenture Assets Corporation and Victoria University of Manchester, see notes 4 and 6.

16. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 14.

17. Brickfield Properties, see note 2.

18. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 20.

19. University of Glasgow, see note 5.

20. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 21.

21. Merton v Lowe, see note 3, at page 133.

22. Equitable Debenture Assets Corporation, see note 4, at page 24.

23. Merton v Lowe, see note 3.

24. Victoria University of Manchester, see note 6, at page 73.

25. University of Glasgow, see note 5, at page 78.

26. University of Glasgow, see note 5, at page 78.

27. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 15-16.

28. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 16.

29. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 16.

30. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 16.

31. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 18.

32. Oxford Architects Partnership v Cheltenham Ladies College [2006] EWHC 3156, TCC, at para 24 (also [2007] BLR 293).

33. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 20.

34. Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee [1957] 1 WLR 582, [1957] 2 All ER 118, QBD.

35. Payne v John Setchell Ltd [2002] BLR 489, TCC, at para 21.

36. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 27.

37. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14.

38. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 28.

39. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 29.

40. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, [2007] BLR 293, at page 295.

41. University of Glasgow, see note 5.

42. Chesham Properties Ltd v Bucknall Austin Project Management Services Ltd 82 BLR 92, QBD(OR), at page 128E (also 53 ConLR 1).

43. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14.

44. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32.

45. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 41.

46. In London Congregational Union Inc v Harriss & Harriss [1988] 1 All ER 15, CA, approving Tozer Kemsley and Millbourn Holdings Ltd v J Jarvis & Sons Ltd (1983) 1 Const LJ 79, QBD(OR).

47. Pirelli General Cable Works Ltd v Oscar Faber & Partners [1983] 2 AC 1, HL.

48. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 41.

49. New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, see note 14, at para 42.

50. Oxford Architects Partnership , see note 32.

51. The distinction will be well understood by lawyers. In basic terms, if the only loss is the cost of repairing the item which suffers from the defective design (including for these purposes any repairs to the building consequent thereupon) the loss is purely economic. If the defective design results in physical damage to person or other property, it is a physical damage case. An example would be a flood or fire causing damage to contents or neighbouring properties.

52. Abbott v Will Gannon & Smith Ltd [2005] EWCA Civ 198, CA, (also [2005] BLR 195, 103 Con LR 92).

53. Pirelli, see note 47.

54. RIBA Conditions of Engagement for the appointment of an Architect, CE/95.

55. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 3.

56. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 16.

57. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 19.

58. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32, at para 21.

59. See note 1, at page 226.

60. Jackson and Powell on Professional Liability, 6th edition, John Powell QC and Roger Stewart QC (eds), 2007, Sweet & Maxwell, at para 9-032.

61. London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority v Halcrow Gilbert Associates Ltd [2007] EWHC 2546, TCC, at para 98 (also (2008) 24 Const LJ 103).

62. Payne v Setchell, see note 35.

63. New Islington & Hackney Housing Association, see note 14.

64. Oxford Architects Partnership, see note 32.

65. London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, see note 61.

The articles and papers published by Keating Chambers are for the purpose of raising general awareness of issues and stimulating discussion. The contents must not be relied upon or applied in any given situation. There is no substitute for taking appropriate professional advice.

For further information on how our members can assist you, please contact the Senior Clerks, John Munton and Nick Child, in the first instance, on +44 (0) 20 7544 2600. They and their teams of Clerks will be pleased to advise you on the member of Keating Chambers appropriate to your requirements.


To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.