I’m an architect. That means that my professional life is governed by the architects registration board (who are against apostrophes, probably for aesthetic reasons). One of the consequences is that any agreement I make with a potential client has to meet certain standards as set out in the architects code (see what I mean?). So that, if my client decides to sue me, the terms of our agreement are clear. You can use a special form of agreement, like the RIBA Concise form of Agreement, which is pretty thorough, but I’m not sure that any of my clients would want me to include a 36 page legal document in their fee. Traditionally, a lot of architect appointments have been by letter and case law has led to a need for standard forms. On a large project I can understand this and having worked in commercial practice I feel confident in saying that some architects could really tighten up in this area. For a minnow like me, the letter is definitely the way to go. I like to spell out in the letter what I think I am being asked to do, the work I am pricing for (survey, drawings, that kind of thing) and what my fees will be. Then, for the small print I like to put in something like this. If you are an architect, or a lawyer, let me know what you think.
About our agreement:
If you would like me to go ahead with this work, this letter will become a contract of appointment for the work stated on this letter and for the fee shown above, between the parties at the top of the letter. If either party wants to change this agreement, for example add to or change the services, this will need to be agreed in writing. I have professional indemnity insurance cover up to £250,000, which I really hope I won’t need. I am registered with the Architects Registration Board and I am subject to the architects code. My job is to help you but if you feel that I am not doing that, please write to me about it. If we really can’t agree then either party can go to arbitration or you can tell the ARB about your concerns directly.