Although I am sure that Michael Sergeant has presented a legally correct view of impartiality and agency (21 January, page 58), I think that he has not entirely warned of the dangers facing the design team.

Sergeant overlooks (as indeed do the standard terms issued by the RIBA for architects) that the designers’ duties to the client change when the contractor is appointed. Before that point they act solely in the client’s interest; after it, they are bound by the rules of the construction contract to hold the scales accordingly. One must wonder how often the design team acquaints its clients with this change.

Thus arises the question: are all designers always able to maintain the impartiality the contract demands of them, when they have to act as judge and jury in the sometimes contentious instructions they have to issue? Designers have

a well-earned reputation for fairness, but one must wonder how many of the now apparently considerable number of adjudications arise through conflicts of interest.

Malcolm Taylor