Right to Have an Architect-Led Design Team is Upheld in Court


Earlier this year, a ruling in the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland confirmed that a public sector client is permitted to run a procurement process in which the role of lead consultant is reserved solely for architects.

The ruling arose from a Judicial Review taken by the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) against the Education Authority for Northern Ireland (EANI). CIAT argued that EANI’s decision to exclude Chartered Architectural Technologists from acting as lead consultant for a range of lower-value construction services contracts was unlawful and irrational.

Mr Justice Humphreys dismissed the judicial review stating, “Both on the evidence and as a matter of legal principle, I am satisfied that the respondent was entitled to impose the requirement that only architects could act as lead consultants.”

The opportunity for appeal has now passed.

Click on the links to read the full judgement and/or the write up in the Irish Legal News.


It is RSUA’s view that this case was of significance to architecture across the UK as the court’s decision would have persuasive force in England, Wales and Scotland.

As a charity which strives to uphold standards of architecture, RSUA’s view is that one of the simplest and most effective steps a client can take to uphold architectural standards is to insist that an architect leads the design team.

We commend EANI for robustly defending its position and for its insistence that an architect leads the design team.

RSUA, in support of EANI, was granted leave to participate in the Judicial Review as a Notice Party. We engaged Cleaver Fulton Rankin solicitors and barrister Philip McEvoy to represent the organisation. Donal MacRandal, who was RSUA President when the legal process began, submitted two affidavits to emphasise the distinctions between architects and architectural technologists.

Due to the potential UK-wide significance of this case, RIBA contributed to RSUA’s legal costs.

Outcome for EANI

As a result of the Judicial Review being dismissed EANI has continued to procure architect-led design teams for its construction services contracts below the EU Threshold using a Dynamic Shortlisting System. Projects include minor works, school enhancements and youth capital schemes.

There are currently 26 architects on the Dynamic Shortlist. This is open for applications on an ongoing basis. For full details visit e-tendersni.

If you have any questions about the case, please contact info@rsua.org.uk