Construction Law guide to design liability (2018) 29 2 Cons.Law 14 [Archived]
Construction Law guide to design liability (2018) 29 2 Cons.Law 14 [Archived]

The following Construction guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Construction Law guide to design liability (2018) 29 2 Cons.Law 14 [Archived]
  • What is design?
  • Design liability
  • Design liability in a JCT design and building contract
  • Design liability in professional appointments
  • 'Hidden' obligations
  • Practical implications

ARCHIVED: This Practice Note has been archived and is not maintained.

This article appears as originally published in Construction Law on 1 March 2018 and is not maintained.

This instalment of the CL guide series by Ross Galbraith of DLA Piper looks at design liability of both contractors and consultants.

In a 'traditional' procurement scenario, design of the development is carried out by the employer's team of design consultants who retain liability for design, and the contractor is responsible for the physical construction (albeit they may take responsibility for a portion of the design). In the commonly-used 'design & build' procurement, the employer's design team undertakes and is responsible for the initial design before they are novated to the main contractor who will then take full responsibility for all aspects of the design of the works creating a 'single point of design responsibility'. How a design is actually produced or developed practically is different from who the legal matter of who bears responsibility for that design.

What is design?

The law does not ascribe a particular meaning to 'design', equally it has a relatively loose meaning within construction. In essence, it extends beyond the process of creating plans and drawings to selecting the materials included in specifications and producing method statements for the work.

Who takes legal responsibility for the design in the