Skip to main content

Ashfords advises Riva Properties Ltd in landmark case against Foster + Partners Architects

By October 24, 2017January 26th, 2021Member News & Updates, Why Exeter blog

National law firm Ashfords has advised Riva Properties Ltd on their case against world leading UK architects, Foster + Partners after they designed a five-star hotel that would have cost Riva Properties, the developer, more than twice the original budget.

The High Court ruled on Wednesday 18 October 2017 that Foster + Partners architects must pay Riva £3.6m for losses to be incurred in finding a new team to design a hotel that could be built within the budget.

Stephen Homer, Partner and Head of Adjudication and Arbitration Services at Ashfords, acted for Riva on the matter, working closely with owner John Dhanoa, Director and Shareholder. Stephen was assisted by Lianne Edwards, Solicitor in Ashfords' Construction Team.

Following the handing down of the judgement, Stephen commented: “This case serves as a warning to designers that they cannot design in a vacuum. Cost and budget is a key constraint and should always be identified and considered when designing any project, even when the provision of cost advice is expressly excluded from the designer's obligations“.

The proposed hotel had 7 floors above ground and 7 floors below ground and a large glass biosphere around the outside containing the “village”. It was Riva's position that it had notified Fosters of an intended overall budget of £70 million later increased to £100 million. When the hotel design was costed in January 2008, the estimated cost was more than double the original budget, coming in at £195 million. Notwithstanding this high cost, the hotel design was submitted to and granted planning permission. However, the hotel was never built as it was not possible to obtain funding for the hotel scheme with such a high build cost.