Background

The Dhamijas appointed the contractor, Sunningdale Joineries, under a JCT IFC 98 form of contract. Under that contract, as is usual in both the JCT 1998 and 2005 suites of contract, the contract administrator’s role includes the issue of interim certificates for payment. The contract administrator looks to the QS to value the contractor’s work, and will certify on the basis of that valuation.

In this case the Claimants alleged that the QS owed a duty “to only value work that had been properly executed by the contractor and was obviously not defective”. In other words the QS was to take a view on whether the work was defective. The QS denied this, and argued that its duty was to provide a value for the interim certificates based on the works properly executed, as advised by the architect.

Role of the QS

The trial judge accepted the position of the QS. The standard of care required of a QS did not extend to implying a duty upon the QS to assess quality. The only implied duty with regard to quality was to exclude work that was “clearly wrong”.

Conclusion

This judgment is helpful in making clear that a QS’s duty is limited at common law to issues of quantity and does not extend to issues of quality; the latter responsibility lies with the architect.

While a QS can take some comfort from this judgment, any QS should be alive to the fact that the specific contractual terms of the QS’s appointment could create a more onerous duty and legitimately require the QS to also assess the quality of a contractor’s work.