A new Georgia statute makes void and unenforceable any provision in a contract for engineering, architectural, or land surveying services that requires a party to indemnify any person or entity for damages except to the extent that those damages were caused by the indemnifying party or by others (such as sub-consultants) employed or utilized by the indemnifying party in performance of the contract.

Georgia law already made void and unenforceable any provision in any contract related to construction that requires a party to indemnify any person or entity for damages caused by the indemnified party's solenegligence (prohibiting so-called "broad-form" indemnification). That law remains and applies to both construction and design contracts.

The new statute applies only to design contracts, and it goes further than the prior law by prohibiting so-called "intermediate-form" indemnification in which the indemnifying party is responsible for 100% of the damages caused in any part by the indemnifying party's negligence. An earlier version of the bill applied this new prohibition to construction contracts, too, but state and local public owners successfully lobbied to have contractors removed from the protected class.

All owners and design-builders (both contractors and subcontractors) should review the indemnity provisions in their contract documents for compliance with this recent change in the law. If an indemnity provision is prohibited by this new statute, then the provision might be read out of the contract entirely rather than amended into a more limited but enforceable provision. That leaves owners and design-builders with the significant risk of having no indemnity provision at all in their contracts with architects and engineers. A compliant, more narrow provision beats a broader, unenforceable one.