Services Directive Guidance
The Services Directive (the “Directive”) is a piece of EU legislation which sets out how the internal market in those services– which includes architecture – should operate. The aim of the Directive is to enhance the free movement of services across the European Union; and to promote the high quality of services within the EU and enhance information and transparency relating to service providers and their services. As a result, each member state is required to set up a portal known as the Point of Single Contact.
The Directive was implemented into UK law by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 (the “Regulations”) on 28 December 2009. Further detailed information on the Directive and Regulations can be found on the Department for Business Innovation and Skills website.
For anyone wishing to practice in Europe, further information can be found at the European Commission’s Point of Single Contact (EUGO).
The provisions seek to ensure that consumers have access to a minimum amount of information and can access a complaints procedure no matter where in the EU a business is based. Many of the requirements are already expected under the Architects Code of Conduct
The mandatory information set out below must be made “available” to your client. In order to make the information “available” for the purposes of the legislation it needs to be either:
- supplied by you on your own initiative; or
- easily accessible at your business address; or
- easily accessible electronically by means of an address supplied by you (such as a specified, publicly available weblink); or
- appear in any information document supplied to your client in which you give a detailed description of your service (such as your terms and conditions of business).
Under the Architects Code of Conduct, some of the information is expected to be contained within a written agreement with your client rather than, for example, just available on your website. These are highlighted below with an asterisk*.
The information that should be made available is:
- The trading and legal name of your business*;
- The legal status of your business (eg: a sole trader, partnership, LLP or limited company);
- Your business address and details by which you can be contacted directly, to include (if applicable) details of how you can be contacted electronically (such as an email address or number for text messages);
- Confirmation that you are registered as an architect with ARB in the UK* and your ARB registration number (refer to this Guidance for suggested wording and a downloadable ARB logo);
- The particulars of ARB, and if you are registered in another EEA state, the particulars of the relevant authority or the point of single contact in that state;
- Your VAT number if applicable;
- Your general terms & conditions (also taking into account expectations of Standard 4.4 of the Code of Conduct*), including any terms which relate to applicable law or jurisdiction;
- The existence of any after-sales guarantee that is not imposed by law – for example- the proviso there will be one charge for planning application approval no matter how many submissions;
- The cost of any work where a price is pre-determined*. For example, the rate per hour for work carried out or the price per copy for photocopying would be a pre-determined price;
- The main features of the service which you will provide*;
- Contact details where requests for information and complaints can be addressed; any complaints received, unless vexatious, should be responded to as quickly as possible with every effort made to find a satisfactory solution*.
In addition to the mandatory information summarised above, certain additional information must be supplied by you on the request of a client either during or after the service has been provided, as set out below. You can of course supply this in all cases if you so wish. However, these areas are also covered under the Architects Code.
- Where fees are not pre-determined, (i) the fees for the work, or (ii) if an exact fee cannot be given, the method of calculation should be clearly set out so that it may be checked by your client, or a sufficiently detailed estimate of fees. Under Standard 4.4 of the Code, fee details or method of calculation are expected to be contained in the written agreement with the client.
- Reference to the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice and how clients can access the document (for example, refer to the ARB website). The Code expects architects to make clients aware of the Code in their written agreement; it is therefore recommended that in addition, your agreement alerts clients as to how they can obtain a copy of the Code.
- Information on any other services you carry out which might be seen to conflict with your role as an architect, and measures taken to avoid conflicts of interest. Under Standard 1.3 of the Code, disclosure is also required in writing together with other safeguards for managing any perceived conflict.
The information must be made available in a clear and unambiguous manner in good time before the conclusion of a written contract, or where no written contract is yet in place, before the services are provided.