LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS FACING INCREASING LIABILITY – HERE’S HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF

19 February 2018

A recent article in the Daily Mail by Joseph Curtis, put the spotlight on the importance of professional indemnity (PI) insurance for landscape architects - and rightly so. All too often we hear about doctors being sued for professional negligence, but rarely do we see headlines like Architect Sued after Landscaping Friends’ Garden for Free. A landscape architect in the UK was sued for £265,000 for providing garden design advice to her neighbour, and this isn’t the first case of its kind. The complexity and frequency of suits and claims against landscape architects is on the incline, which is a cause for concern for the industry.

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE (PI) – THE WHAT AND WHY
PI insurance protects professionals and their businesses in the event of claims made by a client alleging that they have suffered loss due to non-performance, breach of contract and/or professional negligence in the services provided.
The history of PI insurance dates back to the 1700’s, where traditional professionals such as lawyers, accountants, engineers, financial advisors and consultants were identified as needing PI, but this was just the tip of the iceberg. Today, many professionals are required to have professional indemnity insurance as part of their respective industry body’s regulatory requirements.

“For landscape architects PI insurance is vital in order to safeguard against hefty fines, reputational damage and lengthy law suits. Adequate PI insurance is often a pre-requisite within a tender process as well.”
- Matt Cavallaro, Divisional Manager- VIC, JLT.

TOP 5 CLAIMS FACING LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS

  • Defective and substandard designs
  • Negligence in site layout
  • Failure to seek planning permission
  • Use of poor and cheap materials
  • Bodily injury and property damage as a result of collapse of excavation walls/ poor design

PROSPER IN YOUR PROFESSION WITH BETTER PROTECTION BY JLT
JLT’s specialist professional indemnity team provides professional indemnity and/or public liability insurance packages to protect you, your business, principals and employees/subcontractors from the financial cost of claims by clients or third parties; investigation and legal representation, judgements and settlements. We leverage our technical excellence and relationships with insurers to negotiate the best deals for our clients and craft bespoke terms and amendments to standard PI covers. Get in touch now.

CASE STUDY: COULD THIS HAPPEN TO YOU?


WINNING THE TENDER
Landscape architects respond to a tender being conducted by a local council for the design of a playground and a planting program for the surrounding park. The firm ultimately wins the tender. The landscape architect contacts a leading playground equipment manufacturer to design and install the equipment. The planting and installation program goes to schedule without issues.

ISSUES ARISE
Some years later, a safety railing on the equipment breaks due to rusted fittings. Unfortunately, a child suffers a broken ankle through a fall as a direct result of the failed railing.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS
The council receives a letter of demand from the child’s solicitor asserting the equipment was poorly maintained. The council then approaches the landscape architects, arguing that the railing should have had rust protection as specifically required in the tender specification. The landscape architects are then joined as co-defendants. This then impacts the playground manufacturer as they are brought into the proceedings as well. The professional indemnity insurers of all parties - the council, playground manufacturer and landscape architects, are put on notice.

HEFTY FINES FOR LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
The matter goes to court and the landscape architects are found responsible. The architects failed to release the building specifications from the council, which specified appropriate rust protection requirements, to the playground manufacturer. The architects face significant legal costs and reputational damage.


DELIVERING WHEN YOU NEED US MOST
Our team of experts at JLT help reduce the risk of such scenarios occurring by working with you and advising on crucial risk exposures. In the event of a claim, our specialist professional indemnity knowledge and client first values ensure that claims are progressed, settled and paid quickly.

At JLT, we have in depth knowledge of your profession, having been in partnership with the Australia Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) for more than a decade. We are proud to give back to the industry as a supporter of AILA and the 2017 International Festival of Landscape Architecture.

Our experience means we understand the challenges faced by your industry, allowing us to deliver a quality insurance offering at a competitive price.

TALK TO US NOW. WE’RE READY TO HELP.
Contact your Account Manager Salman Khokhar on 03 9613 1403 or visit AILA’s website for further information here.