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Jonathan Spencer (Managing Associate) and Frances Gordon-Weeks (Associate) of Simmons & Simmons consider the recent ruling in Burgess v Lejonvarn specifically in relation to the key guidance on duties of inspection.
In Burgess v Lejonvarn  EWHC 3166 (TCC) the claimants failed in every aspect of their
breach of duty claim against the defendant architect, despite having previously established as a preliminary issue that the architect, who provided free services to friends, owed a duty of care in tort when carrying out those services. Among other
things, the claimants had alleged that the defendant had been negligent and in breach of duty in respect of inspection services carried out, and it is this part of the claim which we focus on in this blog post.
With reference to McGlinn v Waltham Contractors Limited  EWHC 149 (TCC),
the court referred to a common failing in claims against architects, which is to
“assume any claim for bad workmanship against the Contractor must automatically be reflected in a claim against the Defendant on the basis that if there is a defect, then the Defendant has been negligent for not identifying it and having it remedied.”
The key point here being that, in circumstances where the underlying workmanship is defective, it is not automatically the architect’s fault for failure to spot the defect. A claim against an architect in this respect must be far more nuanced
and detailed to stand a chance of succeeding. In particular, the claimant must identify what, specifically, should have been identified by the architect, and when.
Following on from this, the court rehearsed some well-established legal principles relating to an architect’s obligation to inspect which are worth reiterating, including that:
The outcome makes it clear that courts will not automatically find breach in circumstances where workmanship errors were not identified by an inspecting architect - claimants have to give detailed evidence as to what specifically should have been
inspected and when.
The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
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