I studied this rather dry topic at college and was sufficiently terrified following the seminars to do plenty of reading. Following up 2 years later to update on new legislation and pick the brains of an expert I attended the SGD (Society if Garden Designers) DDD (Designer Development Day) day at the very quaint Greyhound Inn at Lutterworth with Nigel Thorne.

It’s sobering to realise just how ‘on the hook’ one is as a designer, how much the Law of the land holds the Professional accountable for their actions and words, even words spoken in passing can be used against one  and as British society becomes increasingly litigious (thank you America). I cam away with the idea that one can anticipate the threat of  being sued at some point in ones working life. Clearly here a GREAT Professional Indemnity insurer is crucial and one that actually understands Landscape matters even more so. I will be moving to McParland Finn next year as they are the recommended insurer for the LI and the SGD and likely to have more experience of landscape issues as a result. Interesting advice to pass any liability or law matter straight to ones insurer, obvious I suppose but well not so obvious if you have not done it before.

Some clients may not be aware that designers carry both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance (or should!). In a way it reassures that not only is the designers a professional but takes their responsibility seriously.

I’m sure at some point during school we must have learned about the law of the land , the levels of court and what is tried where (BHS cannot have been so remiss as to fail in that?). Actually I am pretty sure we did nothing of the sort but we jolly well should have! Running through Civil vs Criminal prosecution, County Ct vs High and Supreme Ct and of course EU intervention and directive. Then there was Common Law and Act of Parliament, Statues of Law. My ignorance of my own countries governing law process is shocking and I will be researching at least some of this in the very near future, not least because as a small business owner I am expected to know at least my businesses part and potential interaction with and in all this.

Happily one is not expected to be a lawyer, one is however expected to know one’s professional limits and to say so, quite clearly. A good deal of common sense and risk taking ONLY if seriously calculated is advisory.

It was somewhat satisfying to find I did know much of the required legality stuff, my time as a (mostly terrified of being sued) PM for a build company paid off in spades though I’m not sure the sleepless nights were a good idea.

In a couple of months there will be more about Planning & Legislation and as this is simply a Dark Art varying frmo county to county and person to person all of course loosely based around some Act of Parliament or another and recently updated (April 2012)by Dave and Nick ending in a developer free for all, it should be an entertaining day. Can’t wait!


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