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RUSHBOND PLC v THE JS DESIGN PARTNERSHIP LLP

Construction Law Reporter

RUSHBOND PLC v THE JS DESIGN PARTNERSHIP LLP

Duty of care – Architect – Whether duty of care owed in relation to fire started by a third party after architect left property unlocked while carrying out inspection

An architect who was employed by the defendant was given the keys and the code to the alarm of premises owned by the claimant so that he could carry out an inspection of the property on behalf of a potential purchaser. While he was in the property the claimant’s case was that he left the access door unlocked for an hour or so, during which time intruders gained access to the building and later that day started a fire which resulted in substantial damage to the property. The claimant brought a claim for damages of £6.5 million in respect of the damage caused by the fire. The defendant sought to strike out the claim or to obtain summary judgment on the ground that the claimant’s statement of case disclosed no reasonable grounds for bringing such a claim and that the claim had no real prospect of success. O’Farrell J held that the statement of claim should be struck out and that summary judgment on the claim should be granted in favour of the defendant. The claimant appealed to the Court of Appeal, which allowed the appeal and held that the claim should not be struck out.

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