Architect's Professional Liability

Professionals today are expected to fulfill their responsibilities diligently in harmony with high-quality service standards. The laws and rules laid out also require professionals to render services to consumers in an appropriate way while exercising duty of care and not committing any negligent act. To safeguard consumers' interests against breaches of duty, the council in action defines deficient services regarding which legal proceedings might be initiated against penalized professionals.

Architects are constantly attributed to judicial action even when they are completely unconnected to the causes of the building's collapse, without first inquiring about their faults and conducting a thorough examination of the circumstances that led to the collapse or a mishap like fire breakout in the building they designed. This has brought negative publicity, humiliation, and mental anguish to the fraternity. The services provided by architects are covered by the country's relevant laws and having a fair idea of architects' professional liabilities is mandatory to protect themselves from lawsuits.

Know Your Responsibilities

An architect is liable for every irresponsible conduct he commits while performing his duty. The Architects Act of 1972 allows the Council of Architecture to take disciplinary action against an architect who is found guilty of professional misconduct. The Council of Architecture's disciplinary action against the architect who was found guilty of professional misconduct does not exempt him from his statutory obligations under the Code of Civil and Criminal Procedure.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, there are liabilities that architects and other allied professionals should be aware of. For example, an engineer or architect who drew up the plans and specifications is liable for its collapse due to defects in the ground or plan if the building collapses due to defects in substandard building materials or construction the contractor and the construction supervisor shall be liable. The Council has issued recommendations on "Architect's Professional Liability" to inform architects, building owners, and occupiers of how and when an architect should be held liable for negligent acts/deficient services, while also emphasizing the clients' and occupiers' duties and responsibilities.

• The architect is required to compensate the client against loss and damage incurred by the client as a consequence of the architect's actions and shall take out and maintain a Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy.

• Upon the granting of the Certificate of Virtual Completion, the architect must keep all project records for a minimum of four years.

• The architect's obligation is restricted to three years after the building is given over to the owner or occupied by the owner, whichever occurs earlier.

The Owner / Client is responsible for fulfilling all his duties related to the project and the Architect's engagement in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Furthermore, upon completion of the project, the Client / Occupant shall maintain it correctly in order to secure and preserve the structure's longevity. However, the Client can take legal action against an architect if the following criteria are satisfied:

• An architect owes his customer a duty of care, and this duty must exist.

• There must be a failure on the part of an architect to comply with the legal standard of care, resulting in a breach of such duties.

• Due to such a breach of duty, the customer must have experienced damages.

Architect is Professional Liability is not accountable if the damage to the building has occasioned in the following circumstances:

• Use of a structure for a purpose other than that for which it was occasioned.

• Any alterations to the structure made by the occupant without the consent or approval of the architect who designed and/or supervised the building's construction.

• Any changes, alterations, modifications, or renovations carried out without the knowledge and approval of an earlier architect or without getting a No Objection Certificate from him by consulting another architect or consultant.

• Any occupants who deviate from the safety standards.

• The distress caused by leakage from the terrace, toilets, and waterlogging in the area of the building, all of which could compromise the structure's strength/stability or overall well-being.

• Occupants' lack of or inadequate maintenance on a regular basis.

• Damages to the building caused by events outside the architect's control.

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