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Updated: Sep 21, 2023


Shown by Richard Millett KC at the public inquiry.


It is good to see a discussion in the public domain on the avoidance of duties legislation imposes on us. Seems as if any new legislation gives raise to new businesses specialising in discharging the duties contained within the wording of such legislation. Discharge of duties which often ends up being a paper push exercise to meet the minimum requirements or more likely to just show compliance without good and proper considerations.

In my view, the CDM REGULATION 2015 has been created to assist the industry in thinking ahead about the project and emphases the importance of foreseeing and giving issues its duly consideration as early as practicably possible and through the design and delivery of the project, and yet, more and more leading designers prefer not to fit in the boots of the Principal Designer although they are the most suited for it.


If no one knows why, it is because of the money.

It can be observed that the often occurrence is twofold, designers mitigate the risk exposure of their practice, and they fulfil only the appointments that make business sense - bring profits. In the open and competitive market, the mid to lower-end projects of 2mil and less seem to bear no room to negotiate higher fees on the account of becoming PD but it makes more commercial sense to exclude this from the equation altogether on the account of looking more competitive. After all many designers do not know what is involved in the duties so how could the Client appreciate such costs? Moreover, from the client’s perspective, the designer should be doing the best and the safest work anyhow so why pay more just for the paperwork?

The truth is, this mechanism is not isolated only to the CDM 2015 matters but generally degrades the AEC industry through the creation of fragmented and so-called specialised services.


The panacea for this situation can be found in the root cause of the problem and should be included within it. For any new law that imposes or describes duties, there should be the identification of the best-suited way for the discharge of such duties and a mandated check of designs and works as constructed by the leading designer.

If the market mechanism does not allow for the addition of the service and appropriate apportionment of the costs to it, perhaps the legislation should make sure that it does. If not, we will continue to see the devolved responsibilities which unfortunately on occasion will lead to disasters, like the tragic fire of Grenfell Tower. After all, there are many dead legislations that create bureaucracy and extra costs that businesses learn quickly how to discharge, cheaply.


The best way to avoid this predicament is to create a positive attitude within the industry especially in the medium to small projects market, towards managing and identifying risks and allocating enough time and resources to do this effectively. All that said, it is universal to the markets around the globe that all the effort on paper means nothing if the teams on the ground are not well-trained and aware of the issues identified during designs. Moreover, it is even more so relevant that the designs are verified on-site during construction.

Do not be part of the Blame Game by playing the best game you can.



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