Individual consultants, including architects, could be held liable for negligent advice offered to clients after a legal ruling last week.
A House of Lords appeals committee upheld a Court of Appeal ruling that individual employees owe a permanent personal duty of care to clients.

In the landmark case, chartered surveyor John Babb was required to pay out nearly £40,000 after a former client successfully claimed that his valuation of her house had been negligent.

Babb's employer at the time was subsequently declared bankrupt and the firm's indemnity insurance was cancelled.

As a result, Babb was sued personally.

Emma Hastings, insurance manager for the RICS, said the ruling would affect thousands within the construction industry.

She said that employees would find it virtually impossible to take out personal insurance to cover such claims if their companies were declared bankrupt or carried a low level of indemnity cover.

She added that the only people who may be protected were former employees who faced claims they looked almost certain to win. This group may be able to obtain "after-the-event" cover.

She said: "At the moment, there isn't a personal insurance scheme that could be used as a back-up."

The possibility of recession, in which many firms could go under, would leave a number of employees exposed without insurance cover.

The RICS is planning a series of roadshows across the country to inform members of problems caused by the ruling.