We had a really great question come up in last weeks PJM Workshop! The question was how the architect’s consultant shares the risks and rewards. This lead to some really great discussions about who is responsible for errors and contractual obligations between the architect and their consultant.
After doing some research, I’ve expanded upon my response to this question. Having never been involved in legal action due to a consultant error myself though, I’m wondering if any other @Coaches can weigh in on this with some real life examples or further explanation/clarification?
Part of the architect’s negotiations with the consultant should be the risks and rewards of the project and how these will be shared. Some specific items beyond project type & scope that should be discussed are the level of coordination required, how the consultant will be compensated, what will happen if the owner fails to compensate the architect, BIM, digital protocols, and any other potential sticking points in the architect/consultant agreement (C401).
Remember, the consultant is not directly bound to the owner. In using C401, the architect is the consultant’s client. The architect is contracted to the owner directly through B101.
Per B101, the architect is responsible for accuracy and completeness of the consultant’s work. If there is an error, the architect can be held liable to the owner for damages.
This does not mean that the consultant bears no responsibility however. They are still the ones signing/stamping their drawings and bear liability for following professional standards. The consultant may still be directly liable to the injured party.
So, it depends. If the consultant fails to meet the standard of care they may cause the architect to be liable to the owner. By making professional errors and not meeting applicable standards of their profession the consultant may be directly liable.
Per C401, the architect and consultant agree to certain indemnifications between each other. However, the owner does not indemnify the architect (or any consultants contracted to the architect) of negligence per B101.
If anyone would like to review further, I personally like to look at the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice for many PJM topics.
Hope this helps!