Last edited 25 Sep 2020

Form of appointment

A form of appointment is the means by which a consultant is appointed to a project. It is important the terms of the appointment are set out in writing as soon as is practically possible, defining the scope of services that are likely to be required and the fee that will be charged for those services.

A number of standard forms of appointment for consultants are available, a range of which are listed below:

Benefits of using a standard form include:

In some circumstances, appointment may be made by letter or by a bespoke agreement. The NBS National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012 indicates that approximately 40% of appointments are made using bespoke agreements.

However, this may be inadvisable because of the risk that bespoke agreements or letters might not adequately or fairly make provision for all circumstances, and that they are not supported by a history of case law. The existence of bespoke agreements is seen by some as a poor reflection of how inflexible and ineffective the industry perceives many of the standard forms to be.

If faced with a bespoke appointment (or schedule of amendments), consult your professional indemnity insurers and seek legal advise.

Risks of bespoke appointments:

If a bespoke agreement is used:

Where a contract is not used, it is suggested that the following matters (at least) should be clearly identified in any exchange of letters:

Letters of appointment may be appropriate if a consultant is required for a very insubstantial or minor commission where a full-blown contract could be seen as heavy handed and off-putting.

Sometimes, a letter of appointment is used to appoint consultants in cases when a client wants the consultant to start work quickly, while a full contract is being prepared. Such a letter should include:

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