German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on an Architect's Responsibilities

In a recent judgement, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) provided a few clarifications with respect to the responsibilities of an architect towards his clients.


Cologne, Germany -- (SBWire) -- 05/14/2013 --GRP Rainer Lawyers Tax Advisors, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Hanover, Bremen, Nuremberg Essen and London explain: In the legal dispute, the client had hired an architect in order to obtain the planning approval for a family home. The client argued that the architect’s plan exceeded the budget plans provided by the client. Therefore this plan was not realized during the realization of the building project. The architect then claimed for remuneration. The client rejected payment and stated that the plans have become useless to him.

In its judgment of 21 March 2013 ( VII ZR 230/11), the BGH decided that, within the framework of the basic evaluation, an architect has to delimit the economic framework for a construction project with the client and that the client’s budget plans for the planning of the construction project have to be considered. Therefore the architect has to delimit the budget with the client at an early stage of planning. If the architect does not disagree with the budget plans brought forward by the client, they should, in any case be able to determine the planning framework and even become part of the contract. Once the architect exceeds the budget framework which was provided by the client, the planning process might be useless and the architect could not asked to be remunerated for his work.

The budget plans of the client shall be even binding when there is not a delimited cap on the construction costs, but rather approximate construction costs that have been determined and on the basis of which the economic framework is to be determined. If there were doubts concerning the economic framework, the architect would have to inform the client about it.

Acquisition of property should be well elaborated. Start-ups commonly fail because financing was not planned out carefully. Before one makes such a decision he should have an extensive consultation with a lawyer, so that he can avoid overextending himself financially when purchasing property.

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