West v Ian Finlay & Associates (a firm) [2014] EWCA Civ 316

This Court of Appeal case concerns whether a net contribution clause in a construction contract which stated that the architect’s liability for loss or damage was to be limited to the amount it was reasonable to pay having regard to “the contractual responsibilities of other consultants, contractors and specialists appointed by [the Wests]” limited the architect’s liability and whether it was valid and binding under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. The Judge had held that the clause did not limit the architect’s liability where the other entity was a main contractor appointed by the architect (as opposed to directly by the Wests). The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of the architect. It held that the plain meaning of the clause was that the architect’s liability was limited when there was another contractor involved in the works. The Court further held that the clause did not tilt the balance of the parties’ rights and obligations significantly in the architect’s favour, and was not contrary to the duty of good faith, and so the West’s reliance on the 1999 Regulations was rejected. The Court of Appeal also held that the clause was reasonable under the 1977 Act.