Claims Examples
The planning profession, although viewed by many as more ‘low risk’ than others such as Chartered Surveying or Architecture, remains affected by today’s litigious society, with claims notifications still on the increase.So, how do claims actually arise? Most are as a result of a difference in perception between what the planner is attempting to deliver and what their Client wants achieved. Couple this with commercial pressures being applied, such as tight timescales, and you can see how alleged errors could arise. The subjective nature of the planning process itself also does not help matters, with Clients often expecting certain outcomes, only to be disappointed and angry with the final result.Planners are also now being brought into disputes between their Client and other professionals, with the Client taking a ‘scattergun’ approach to all those involved on the particular job in question, hoping that liability will ‘stick’ with some of the parties concerned. Although small numbers of claims are made against planning consultants, the following Case Studies provided by insurance brokers Perkins Slade Ltd, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, highlight the importance of PII cover.Case Study 1An independent planning consultant was appointed by a Client midway through the planning process. The previous consultant had already been dismissed from the job, due to the Client being unhappy with their performance. Under pressure from their Client to adhere to very tight planning deadlines, the new consultant used drawings which were prepared by the previous one. The use of this work came to the attention of the previous consultant, and they successfully sued the new consultant for breach of their intellectual property rights. Claim settled for in excess of £250,000 including legal defence costs incurred in defending the allegation.Case Study 2A planning practice was involved in the submission of proposals for a large-scale urban redevelopment, the application for which was eventually rejected, much to the annoyance of the developer concerned. Seeking the recovery of costs, the developer subsequently served a writ on the planning practice for amounts totalling close to £3m, claiming alleged negligence in the handling of the entire planning process and the strategy devised in the way in which it was approached. Due to the complexity of the claim and the potential costs involved, the practice was advised to settle the claim for over £240,000 (including legal defence costs).Case Study 3A sole practitioner planning consultant acted on behalf of Clients objecting to work being undertaken at a nearby Quarry. The consultant concerned had prior knowledge of the issues relating to the site, having been involved in the case during their time working for the LPA. This led to an unusually risky position for the planner, as they potentially could have been sued by their Clients if they were unsuccessful with their objections, or sued by the Quarry owners for alleged misuse of the planners’ prior knowledge.The planner concerned ended up pursuing fees from his Client, who counterclaimed alleging professional negligence. Claim settled for damages of approximately £60,000 and in excess of £100,000 in legal fees (both own and the claimants).It is essential that a written appointment is used, the brief is clear and the Client understands what the potential outcomes are. Unfortunately, the days of doing business with a handshake and gentleman’s agreement are long gone.Members who do not clearly set out their terms of business to a client may also find themselves in breach of the RTPI’s Code of Professional Conduct.Claims examples
The planning profession, although viewed by many as more ‘low risk’ than others such as Chartered Surveying or Architecture, remains affected by today’s litigious society, with claims notifications still on the increase.
So, how do claims actually arise? Most are as a result of a difference in perception between what the planner is attempting to deliver and what their Client wants achieved. Couple this with commercial pressures being applied, such as tight timescales, and you can see how alleged errors could arise. The subjective nature of the planning process itself also does not help matters, with Clients often expecting certain outcomes, only to be disappointed and angry with the final result.
Planners are also now being brought into disputes between their Client and other professionals, with the Client taking a ‘scattergun’ approach to all those involved on the particular job in question, hoping that liability will ‘stick’ with some of the parties concerned. 
Although a relatively small number of claims are made against planning consultants, the following Examples and Case Studies provide an insight into the types of issues which can, and do, arise.

Claims Examples

The planning profession, although viewed by many as more ‘low risk’ than others such as Chartered Surveying or Architecture, remains affected by today’s litigious society, with claims notifications still on the increase.

So, how do claims actually arise? Most are as a result of a difference in perception between what the planner is attempting to deliver and what their Client wants achieved. Coupled with commercial pressures being applied, such as tight timescales, and you can see how alleged errors could arise. The subjective nature of the planning process itself also does not help matters, with Clients often expecting certain outcomes, only to be disappointed and angry with the final result.

Planners are also now being brought into disputes between their Client and other professionals, with the Client taking a ‘scattergun’ approach to all those involved on the particular job in question, hoping that liability will ‘stick’ with some of the parties concerned.

Although small numbers of claims are made against planning consultants, the following Case Studies highlight the importance of PI cover.

  • Alleged defamation of character against a planning Consultant.

  • Consultant engaged, without a formal written contract, to provide general planning and building regulation advice. Planning permission gained but construction was not in accordance with the consent. Client claimed negligence of both the Planner and Surveyor involved.

  • Consultant requested to ascertain whether an earlier planning permission could be implemented after work on a project was stopped because contractor demolished too much of the original structure. Work was recommenced and later subsequently halted again. Client claimed for extra expenses incurred.

  • The Consultant received complaints from a Clients neighbour regarding the nature of work being undertaken to adjacent property. The work could have the potential to cause subsidence damage in the nearby area.

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