Architect Negligence Claims

As true specialists in our field, we act for clients nationwide in claims for architect negligence, as well as in claims against other professionals.

Our approach to resolving professional negligence claims against architects

From the outset, we focus not on making professional negligence claims on behalf of our clients, but on resolving them. In this way, we ensure that ours is a more considered perspective and a more open mind.

Moreover, and by harnessing:

  • Our wealth of experience acting in claims against a wide-range of professionals
  • Our unique insight into the defence of claims for professional negligence
  • Our commitment to providing a client-centric service as part of our core values
  • Our innovative and highly efficient service provision

we ensure that our clients achieve better results for substantial claims, time and again.

Common mistakes by incompetent architects

The wide range of construction projects, combined with the different roles that an architect can undertake in relation to them, mean that the errors and omission made by architects can be, and often are, relatively varied.

However, shortcomings frequently fall within the following broad categories:

  • Failing to ascertain that the intended construction site is suitable for the proposed construction works;
  • Failing to provide a reasonable estimate of the costs associated with the intended development scheme;
  • Failing to consult with planning officers and related agencies before applying for planning permission;
  • Failing to prepare plans and designs that comply with planning and building control requirements;
  • Failing to supervise construction works to ensure that they comply with planning conditions;
  • Failing to ensure the designs and specifications for different elements of a scheme are co-ordinated and compatible;
  • Failing to prepare designs which meet the client’s brief and/or that are fit for their intended purpose;
  • Failing to take reasonable care when selecting suitable contractors as part of a tender process or when advising on the terms of the tenders received;
  • Failing to advise on the most appropriate form of building contract and/or contractual terms;
  • Failing to properly administer the building contract in various respects, such as by inspecting the works, determining claims for extensions of time or approving work to make good defects;
  • Failing to ensure that related works have been satisfactorily completed before issuing interim or final certificates.

Even where a defective design or plan has been approved by a client, building control or other authority, the architect responsible for preparing them may still be held liable for any financial losses caused.

Assessing the merits of an architect negligence claim

It is not in every case where financial loss arises that a professional will be held responsible and before embarking on any claim for architect negligence, a careful assessment will need to be undertaken of a number of important issues. These include:

  • The scope of the legal duties owed by the architect
  • Any actions taken by the architect to comply with those duties
  • The nature and extent of the loss caused by any breaches of those duties

This can be a complicated process and the merits of each claim will often depend on the specific background events that give rise to it. For this reason, caution should always be exercised when relying on the reported outcome of one claim, to assess the merits of another.

How to make a claim for architect negligence

Most architect professional negligence claims are commenced by correspondence and by following the procedures set out in the Pre-Action Protocol for Construction and Engineering Disputes.

The aim of the Protocol is to make the process of resolving both professional negligence claims and other construction and engineering related disputes more open and more efficient and, by doing so, to reduce the number of claims that require judicial intervention. Happily, and since the introduction of the Protocol in July 2001, the vast majority of professional negligence claims are now resolved at the Protocol stage and without the need to institute and pursue costly and time-consuming court proceedings.

However, it is as well to appreciate that as helpful as the Protocol is, it provides only a generic framework for resolving professional negligence claims. It does not identify or assess what facts, issues or evidence is relevant and irrelevant in any particular case, nor does it contain legal advice.

Why clients instruct us as their professional negligence solicitors

Our clients invariably tell us that we have been recommended to them by other legal professionals who have been impressed by our expertise and the high levels of service that we have provided to other clients that they have referred to us.  Others approach us because our solicitors are individually endorsed as experts in their field by the leading legal directories.

Our association with Keystone Law, a multi-award winning top 100 UK law firm, also gives us a considerable advantage, enabling us to draw upon the knowledge and practitioner experience of over 450 partner-level solicitors specialising in various other areas of legal practice, including planning, construction, commercial property and corporate finance, to support and corroborate our work.


We are delighted to share some of the unprompted feedback we have received from our clients.

‘Your advice proved always to be correct, informative and accurate on every occasion, the ease of accessibility to contact you and get immediate replies via e-mail or by direct telephone contact is a credit to you as is the friendly manner in which you work.’

 ‘…may I place on record my appreciation of your services. The quality of your advice and expertise is in my opinion very high indeed.’

‘Your service in dealing with this matter was excellent, especially the hard work you put into the mediation and the great result achieved…many thanks for your assistance.’

‘I have very much appreciated your calm and considered approach in your dealings with [this] claim.’

View Testimonials

Where to meet us

It is rare that an ‘in-person’ meeting is required, thanks to the effectiveness and efficiency of online meetings, telephone calls and emails. However, should a face-to-face meeting be required, we have access to multiple meeting room facilities across England, as listed below:

Arrange a consultation with us

If you are contemplating making, or even currently pursuing, a professional negligence claim against an architect and would like to arrange an initial consultation with us, free of charge or commitment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 195 4983 or by email at

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • How can I mitigate loss in claims for architect negligence?

If you have been caused financial loss by a negligent architect, it is important to consider what action, if any, might be taken to reduce the financial effect of their negligence. This is because all claimants who have suffered a loss are expected to take all reasonable steps to mitigate that loss and take no unreasonable steps which would exacerbate it. Where this ‘duty’ is breached, the court is likely to prevent a claimant party from recovering compensation for that loss which it considers was unreasonably incurred.

The duty to mitigate can lead to much confusion and uncertainty, particularly at the outset of a claim, and further guidance on it is available in our article: The duty to mitigate in professional negligence claims

  • What are the time limits for professional negligence claims against architects?

There are a number of important reasons for acting promptly when a mistake has been made or discovered. One of these is the time limits that apply to all professional negligence claims.

These time limits can be found in the Limitation Act 1980. In short, they require legal proceedings to be commenced within:

  • 6 years of the date upon which damage or financial loss occurs – section 2
  • 6 years of the date upon which the mistake occurred – section 5
  • 3 years of the earliest date upon which the claimant has both the knowledge required for bringing a claim and the right to bring a claim – section 14A
  • 15 years of the date on which the mistake occurred, even if the time limit prescribed by section 14A has not expired – section 14B

Therefore, where there are grounds for pursuing a professional negligence claim against an architect, a claimant will generally have 6 years from the date of wrongdoing or loss, but may have 3 years from the date of discovery, if later, in which to bring any claim, subject to a long stop of 15 years.

However, while these time limits may appear straightforward in summary form, applying them in practice can be much more challenging. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of cases in which they have been misapplied, not only by lay clients acting as litigants in person but also by solicitors and other lawyers who have themselves fallen into error.

Although limitation is a complicated area of law with a large body of case law relating to it, further information about it can be found in our introductory guide: Time limits for professional negligence claims – FAQ

  • Where can I learn about funding claims for architect negligence?

Before embarking on any professional negligence claim it is imperative to consider how it will be funded. In comparison to other more routine forms of litigation, professional negligence claims can be more complicated, more time-consuming and more costly to resolve.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to fund litigation. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and can be more or less suitable, depending on individual circumstances. Further information about these different funding options can be found in our related guide: Fund a claim

Further information:

  • The architectural profession in England & Wales

Like the term ‘solicitor’, whose usage is regulated by statute, use of the designation ‘architect’ is also restricted. Under section 20(1) of the Architects Act 1997, and subject to section 20(2) and section 20(3), no person is permitted to practise or carry on business under any name, style or title containing the word ‘architect’ unless he is registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB).

As the Solicitors Regulatory Authority acts as the appointed regulator of solicitors, so the ARB acts in an equivalent capacity for architects. Its core functions include ensuring that only those individuals who achieve the approved qualifications are permitted to practise and maintaining a publicly accessible Register of architects.

Many architects in England & Wales are also members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Similar to the Law Society for solicitors, RIBA acts as a representative body for its members, providing practical resources, networking opportunities and PR campaigns and promotional initiatives. It also maintains its own Code of Professional Conduct, with which members are expected to comply.

  • Reporting an architect for misconduct

Misconduct is often defined by a breach of the professional codes of practice that govern the professional. While in some instances the misconduct in question can also amount to negligence, this will not be so in every case. Where the breach is serious, reporting a professional to his or her regulator may be appropriate. If it appears that the misconduct might also constitute a criminal office, it may also be appropriate to report it to the police.

The Architects Code: Standards of Professional Conduct and Practice, which is issued by the ARB, sets out those professional standards that architects are required to achieve in the course of their professional practice. Where a serious breach is believed to have occurred, a complaint should be made to the ARB, using its online complaints form.

Where an architect is reported for misconduct, disciplinary proceedings may follow. However, while disciplinary proceedings can result in penalties and sanctions being imposed upon the architect, they do not often result in an award of compensation. Accordingly, they are rarely a substitute for, or an alternative to, pursuing professional negligence claims against architects where financial loss or damage is sought to be recovered.

  • Fee disputes and service complaints

Fees can be a cause of dispute between architects and their clients. If a mistake made by an incompetent architect causes significant unnecessary, additional or abortive fees to be incurred, this may well justify a professional negligence claim. However, this is not always the most appropriate means by which to challenge an architect’s fees.

Where disputes between architects and clients arise from poor service, rather than as a result of a mistake that has caused a financial loss or liability, making a formal complaint to the architect’s firm may be more appropriate than pursing a professional negligence claim or reporting an architect to the ARB. Examples of poor service may include:

  • Failing to respond in a timely way to client correspondence
  • Failing to hand over documents belonging to a client
  • Failing to keep documents safe
  • Failing to keep a client informed of progress
  • Failing to provide appropriate information in relation to costs
  • Failing to apply reasonable charges for work undertaken
  • Failing to follow instructions within a reasonable period or at all
  • Failing to investigate a complaint internally

If the architect’s firm is unwilling or unable to resolve the complaint satisfactorily, it may be possible to resolve the matter by appointing an independent arbitrator or mediator. At present, there is no equivalent industry ombudsman scheme for dealing with service complaints against architects, as there is for complaints against legal and financial services professionals.

Do not hesitate to contact us for specialist legal advice

If you are contemplating making, or even currently pursuing, a professional negligence claim against an architect and would like to arrange an initial consultation with us, free of charge or commitment, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 195 4983 or by email at

We have experience of resolving claims against a wide range of professionals.

Using the links below you can learn more about specific professions and some of the common mistakes that give rise to negligence claims against them.