Cities and Counties Launch Late Attack on AIA|WA Contract Fairness Bill

Yesterday, with only a few hours warning, a consortium of city and county governments launched a last minute attack AIA’s bill to bring fairness to public contract provisions, EHB 1559.

EHB 1559 seeks to prevent unfair contract language from being forced on architects and other design professionals by government agencies. Many public agencies are putting a clause in their design contracts that require the prime design consultant to indemnify and pay for the defense of any lawsuit arising from the project, regardless of negligence.

These clauses are an abuse of the contract to unfairly shift risk and costs to the consultant that properly reside with the client agency or other contractors on the project. Even more problematic is these requirements are not covered by the design consultant’s insurance. Thus, the architecture firm is directly liable to cover any resultant legal fees and even the individual architect may find their personal assets entangled in the legal battles

AIA worked with our colleagues in the engineering, land surveying and landscape architectural community to develop legislation to prohibit these unfair clauses. EHB 1559 would limit the design consultant’s liability to actions arising out of their own negligence and forestall liability resulting from the actions of those not under the control of the design consultant.

Representatives for design professionals and their insurance providers testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to the need for this bill. They cited examples of contract abuses and explained how EHB 1559 would restore parity of risk in public agency design consultant contracts.

City and county agencies testified against the bill. They stated, “We don’t make anyone sign these contracts; they can always walk away.” Their defense of current provisions rests on the premise that they want someone else to pay for their legal costs, regardless of fault or negligence.

AIA|WA will continue to push hard to get the bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

You can view the full hearing at TVW’s Website.

To see only the AIA|WA’s testimony, watch this segment:

Here is the video for the full hearing:

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