Lawsuits and litigation in the field of architects law focus mostly on an architect’s claims for fees as well as on questions of liability of an architect’s faulty planning and/or mistakes made in the course of the supervision of a construction project.
In view of the new version of German Architect Fee Law (HOAI 2009) is to be expected that there will be an increasing number of disputes concerning architects’ fees as long as the questions and problems which are and will be coming up in connection with the new legal provisions will not have been clarified and solved by the jurisdiction of the superior courts and the German Federal High Court.
The differentiation between the work which was done by an architect in connection with solicitation on the one hand and the conclusion of the architect’s contract and the resulting rights to payment of fees on the other hand is also frequently a subject matter of lawsuits which are brought before the courts of justice with reference to building claims.
Finally an architect is frequently faced with a reproach of faulty planning with ensuing claims for damages on the part of the builder, be it for the reason that costs and expenses for a building or construction were exceeded, be it for the reason that it is found that a building is affected by either damage or defects/deficiencies. Over and above that a deficient or insufficient supervision of the construction work will equally entail liability on the architect’s part.
In the case of faulty planning and building supervision which are due to the architect’s fault and which are already materialized in the structure concerned the architect is, as a rule, not entitled to proceed to remedy himself, as it is rather so that he will have to pay for any such loss or damages on his warranty obligations. Moreover a reduction of the architect’s fees may also be taken into consideration.
It is both in connections with problems of fees and with the architect’s liability that the question of acceptance of the architect’s performance and – along with that – also the issue of limitation of time frequently plays a major role.
Our offices’ legal advice begins already at the point of our clients’ initiation and of the drafting of their contracts. In this context it will always be in the best interest of the respective client that provisions be made for instance with respect to construction costs which must not be exceeded (building costs limit, guaranteed contract sum construction costs as quality description, the conclusion of architect’s contracts by phases, as well as the definition of the completion period on the one hand and, for the case of a premature termination of the contract as a result of notice of termination or insolvency on the other hand.
If disputes will arise between the parties to the architect’s contract despite the fact that the wording of the contract was appropriately drafted and that legal advice was given as the building work proceeded it will in all cases be necessary to see to it and make it a point especially for the lawyer who is an expert in construction and architects’ law and who is giving counsel to the architect that the notification of the architect’s professional liability insurance company be not forgotten, in order to not jeopardize the architect’s insurance coverage as a consequence of non-compliance with the architect’s duties such as they are specified in the architect’s insurance contract.
In cases where differences of opinion concerning the architect’s contract between the contracting parties cannot be solved by way of conciliation/mediation, our Nuernberg office can provide the services of lawyers who are specialized in building and architects law and who are highly qualified to represent our clients’ interests in litigations before all local, regional and higher regional Courts.