Client note: Architects' fees

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 applies to the supply of professional services including those by architects. The Act has provisions that prohibit anti-competitive, 'cartel' conduct and collusion between 'competitors' in a 'market' or industry. Architects in the design and architectural services market are competitors for the purposes of the Act. Because of the definition of cartel conduct, the Act is likely to prohibit competitors collaborating or colluding on, creating or publishing mandatory fee scales or similar. The danger here is that doing so can have the effect that a majority of architects otherwise in free competition collude on the 'price' of architectural services. This is what the cartel and collusion provisions in the Act seek to prevent. The constructive effect of this prohibition is that architects and their clients are free to negotiate and agree fees on any basis (so long as it is legal).