Q&A - Can I claim against my architects for negligence?

Q: As I live in a conservation area I paid an expensive firm of architects to draw up plans for a large extension and get planning permission. Now the whole thing has turned into a nightmare. They got the planning permission but they changed the design and the materials so many times to appease the planners, without any consideration to build cost.

Now the builder says the job is going to be so far over budget that I may not be able to finish it. Even if I can find the extra money the cost will far exceed any increase in the value of the property. Have I got a case against the architects for a professional negligence claim?

A: If the standard of the architect’s work has caused you to suffer a financial loss then you may be able to sue for professional negligence. However, suing any professional is never going to be easy, so you should engage the services of a law firm who have a proven track record of success in this type of case.

When making such a claim there is a strict professional negligence pre-action protocol which sets out a series of steps both parties must follow. During this time preliminary information and evidence is exchanged and the parties are encouraged explore the possibility of settling the claim before court proceedings.

Your solicitor will send a detailed letter of claim to the other party, setting out the legal basis of your claim and an indication of the level of damages you are seeking to rectify the issue. After acknowledging the letter they have three months to formally respond to your claim. If they fail to respond or satisfactorily resolve your claim within that period then you will be entitled to issue court proceedings.