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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T V W Y

The £265 Grand…..Design

The £265 Grand…..Design
Friday 22nd January 2016

Many will relate to the scenario when they are asked by family members, friends, friends of friends or neighbours for a “bit of advice”, “as a favour” or “can I just run something past you?”, usually after a couple of drinks at the local pub or at some other non-work related social event.

But when does a friendly favour or nonchalant advice become a potential liability? In a recent High Court decision, this seemingly friendly gesture came at a substantial cost to one unfortunate architect.

It that case, an architect assisted her friends and neighbours with their “Grand Designs” project to landscape their garden. This friendship quickly deteriorated and the architect was blamed for the poor workmanship and delays in the project resulting in her friends bringing a £265,000 damages claim against her.

Despite the architect providing her services to her friends at no cost and insisting that she was “merely involved as a friend who happened to have a professional background” the Judge disagreed and determined that the architect in fact owed her friends a duty of care. The friends were held to be clients of the architect and the assistance that they received was of a professional nature as opposed to purely friendly.

This case serves as an unfortunate reminder of the narrow and often murky boundaries between giving professional advice, which can attract a duty of care, and offering some friendly guidance without any intentions to create any professional relationship or liability.

Our suggestion (without giving advice) is to ensure that next time your asked for a favour by a friend, make sure that there are enough drinks in it to make that friendly advice worthwhile, or otherwise have an engagement letter at the ready in your inside pocket.....


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