A professional negligence claim brought by a property developer against a firm of architects – Foster + Partners – arising out of a project to construct a 500 bed 5* hotel at Heathrow Airport.
Foster + Partners were held to have been negligent in failing to design to their client’s budget of £70-100 million (the design they produced was costed at £195 million) and in telling their client that the design could be value engineered down to that budget following planning permission.
The Claimant was therefore successful in recovering the professional and other fees and expenses incurred in pursuing the design/planning permission for that scheme as damages for breach of contract in the sum of £3.6 million.
Foster + Partners had, prior to trial, denied that it was aware of the client’s budget. At trial the Claimant’s witnesses “entirely shifted their position” and “simply accepted the claimants’ case” in what was described by the judge as a “pivotal moment in the case”. The Judge was highly critical in relation to the veracity of the Defendant’s witness evidence and the manner in which they conducted the proceedings, citing their unwarranted “sustained personal attack” and “business-character assassination” of the Claimant and describing their witness evidence as “entirely self-serving” and “extraordinarily enthusiastic … to twist the facts”. The Judge also criticised the approach of Foster + Partner’s expert quantity surveyor describing his approach as having “no intellectual justification whatsoever” and his evidence as “wholly flawed”.
- The Times: “£3.6m legal bill for hotel errors of Gherkin firm Foster & Partners”
- Building: “Fosters counting the cost as it loses court wrangle over £195m Heathrow hotel”
- Architect’s Journal: “Foster + Partners ‘shocked and disappointed’ by £3.6m court ruling”
- Evening Standard: “Architects behind the Gherkin and City Hall fined £3.6m over ‘glaring errors’ in £195m hotel design”
- Global Construction Review: “£3.6m ruling against Foster + Partners for hotel too expensive to build”
- Civil Litigation brief: Post 1 and Post 2
Instructed by Ashford Solicitors for the Claimant.
Related barrister: Lucie Briggs.
To view the full judgment please click here.
18 October 2017