LETTER TO CLERK TO THE COMMITTEE FROM THE ROYAL INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS IN IRELAND
We understand that in matters before the Sub-Committee an inference of unjust enrichment has been made in criticism of Professional Fees paid in the development of prisons.
The R. I. A. I. cannot comment on a specific case but has asked to be heard by the Sub-Committee on the general imputation that the architectural profession is party to or derives unjust benefit from public development contrary to the common interest.
2. The R. I. A. I. Minimum Fee Scale
The minimum fee scale for architectural services, based on a percentage of final building cost, determined by the R. I. A. I. and recognised generally by Government Departments, was examined by the National Prices Commission (Occasional Paper No. 19, 1975) and found to reflect a fair and equitable return on architectural services by reference to market standards and on the basis of this authority backed by its traditional status, the R. I. A. I. fee scale is submitted as just and reasonable remuneration for architectural services.
3. The Brief
Pursuant to the Conditions of Engagement the Client undertakes to instruct the Architect. In the case of large projects instruction by custom takes the form of a Client Brief which sets out user requirements, operational policies and a general programme for development as fixed design objectives. Architectural services are provided on the fixed basis of the Brief in return for the percentage fee scale. It follows that material client alterations to the Brief during the currency of the service may result in additional work falling outside the scope of the percentage fee scale, in consequence of which additional fees may be properly changeable: an inadequately drafted Brief in the normal course by variation in Clients instructions may give rise to unproductive additional work and so to corelative additional charges.
4. Cost Projections
It is normal commercial practice to forecast expenditure in real terms and to review projections by reference to the value of money and market conditions from time to time. Failure to project real expenditure may lead to false expectations and misplaced recrimination.
We consider that Departments which have considered briefing procedures and cost forecasting are less likely to be subject to the criticisms now before the Sub-Committee.
5. R.I.A.I. Recommendations to Sub-Committee
The R.I.A.I., having regard to the length of time over which the development process may generally run, suggests to the Sub-Committee that, in the interests of efficiency in State funded projects, it review:
(i)practice with regard to consistency in the relevant strategic policy for the programmed duration of any development.
(ii)the adequacy of Briefing procedures to ensure that the Brief represents as far as possible and in the appropriate form the Client objectives and the adequacy of procedures for dealing with the identification and prior valuation of necessary amendments.
(iii)the practice of forecast and regular review of projected real expenditure from time to time in the case of any major project.
By reference to the Conditions of Engagement and Scale of Minimum Charges established to be reasonable the Architect is entitled to additional payment only for additional services: these may arise by way of alteration in the policy and content of the Brief which embodies the Client’s instructions upon which the Architect contracts to give a service: it must therefore be assumed that any fees in excess of the percentage fee scale are paid on the proper basis of altered or extended services, in which case it is inequitable and misleading to impute that the Architectural Profession has been unjustly enriched at all or at public expense.
Brian O’Connell. Honorary Secretary R.I.A.I.
14th February, 1985.