Bingham and Walker pirouette around the truth (29 October, page 52), without coming to the point, in arguing the duty a QS owes to the client in valuing work in progress under a JCT contract. JCT makes it clear that only the architect is to judge if what is being built conforms to the specification

The QS can only assume what he sees on site conforms. It is then the architect who adjusts the valuation if he thinks a part does not.

Bingham and Walker attach importance to the architect’s duty to warn the QS of work that is suspect. As a QS who has carried out many valuations, that has not been my experience. The QS values what he sees and reports a figure to the architect. Of course, the QS should remind the architect to check valuations against quality before certifying.

In practice, it is not the work carried out that poses a problem for the QS - it is unfixed materials on site. Such materials can be difficult to quantify. Some contractors bring materials to site prematurely to maximise cash flow. There is a temptation for the QS to accept the contractor’s list. If I saw door frames exposed to weather on a site where the building frame had only just been erected, I would not include them in my valuation. But would I be liable if I had? Despite JCT’s clarity about responsibility for quality, this remains a grey area.

Malcolm Taylor