The criticism of the new RIBA Standard Agreement 2007 by Ian Yule (23 November, page 59) is inaccurate and self-serving.

His comments may have some resonance for clients experienced in large projects, but no client, however expert, can transfer all risks to others. Less experienced clients may find that the RIBA Agreement offers a fair and reasonable allocation of risk.

In addition:

  • It is doubtful whether any tribunal would find in favour of an architect who put forward such poor reasons as those Yule suggested for overshooting the budget
  • The supply of information is a requirement of CDM 2007. Removing the words “the architect is entitled to rely on such information” will not make the architect liable for any inaccuracies
  • Co-operation is a mutual obligation for the consultant team. A client cannot be absolved of ultimate responsibility for the failure of separately appointed consultants
  • The net contribution clause will be necessary until the insurance industry rectifies the unfairness of the situation. Where there are joint insurance arrangements involving the client, architects will need the protection of this clause or some other negotiated cap on liability.
  • Suspending the licence is an option if fees “properly due” are not paid. If there is a dispute about what is properly due, then the architect cannot exercise the option.

When agreeing the terms of their contract, clients and their architects will find that the standard agreement provides a fair and transparent basis for the professional standards with which all architects must comply. Most contracts that are found wanting in legal disputes tend to be bespoke ones, rather than the professional standard forms.

Roland Philips, author of RIBA Agreements 2007