Design lacks skill in doing deals

Design consultancies need to become more professional when dealing with client contract negotiations, senior industry figures are warning.

The alert comes as the Design Business Association is writing to a number of consultancies about the problem of restrictive and damaging contracts. The DBA is preparing to put together a set of guidelines to tackle the issue (DW 19 January).

“We want to look after clients’ needs as well as agencies’ in ways that are not unlawful,” says DBA chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill.

The trend for clients to bring in professional negotiators to thrash out contractors should also be of concern to consultancies, which often enter into these battles without the equivalent expertise on their side.

“There is a lack of legal experience about,” says Landor Associates managing director for London Charlie Wrench. “The issue of contracts boils down to experience and the confidence of the agency. The agency has to be confident enough to place its terms against that of the client.”

Coley Porter Bell managing director Amanda Connolly endorses the point, adding, “The issue doesn’t need a body to create an industry practice, it is up to the design agencies to wise up.”

See “DW200101260039”

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