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Aintree Group Legal partners with the Design Institute of Australia

Aintree Group Legal’s Legal Assistance service to members of the Design Institute of Australia.

As the premier voice and representative body of professional designers in Australia, the Design Institute of Australia has an extensive network of strategic partners to assist its members.

Complementary Consultation Service

Aintree Group Legal is an incorporated legal practice with a deep and rewarding relationship with the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). We offer a complementary consultation service to DIA members to consider their general legal needs. As part of this service, we have worked with a number of DIA members to consider their legal needs in both their practices and their personal lives.

Specialising in commercial, property and personal matters, Aintree Group Legal is able to assist DIA members with a wide variety of matters that arise in the ordinary business of a design practice. This includes buying & selling businesses, business succession planning, and preparing contracts and other commercial documentation.

Legal Solutions Now to Prevent Tomorrow’s Problems

Contracts and other commercial documents (such as Terms & Conditions, and website privacy policies) are particularly important for any business.

Consider the below example of Lucia (*what follows is, of course, a hypothetical case study. To all designers named Lucia, we can only offer our heartfelt apologies for the horrendous case study we are about to inflict).

Case Study

Lucia is an experienced and professional interior designer. Her career has been a never-ending series of triumphs, prompting her to leave her current firm and set up her own business. With her impeccable reputation, she soon wins her first client with a project for a private residence. She prepares a proposal for the client and is instructed to proceed. She undertakes her normal work and delivers the usual deliverables to her client. After this point, however, not everything proceeds so smoothly:

  • The builder ignores the materials in Lucia’s plans. He instead installs substitute materials that he finds online, thinking they’ll be just as good. Sadly, he’s mistaken. The substitute materials age prematurely and after six months look nothing like the finishes the client wanted in their dream home.
  • Lucia suggests that the client purchases furniture from a particular manufacturer. The manufacturer asks for a $20,000 upfront deposit, which the client duly pays. Unfortunately, the manufacturer becomes insolvent and is liquidated without ever delivering the purchased items. The client blames Lucia and asks her to repay the missing amount to him.
  • Lucia delivers all of the quoted interior design services to the client. However, the client mistakenly believes that Lucia was to also meant to act as project manager because this was briefly discussed one day over coffee. The client and Lucia are in dispute as to the full scope of Lucia’s role.
  • Lucia incurs significant travel expenses as part of the project. Her standard practice is to treat these as a disbursement payable by the client, however no part of her documentation discloses this. The client refuses to pay these expenses.
  • Notwithstanding their disagreements, the client is secretly chuffed with Lucia’s work. He decides to replicate parts of the design in his other properties, including several commercial properties that he owns. As part of reproducing Lucia’s design, he reuses her drawings, designs and other intellectual property belonging to Lucia. The client does not seek her consent or pay her for this unauthorised use, arguing that he acquired the intellectual property rights to Lucia’s drawings and other material when he engaged her.
  • Lucia is rightly proud of her work on the project, and would like to include photographs and other records of her work on the project to build up her portfolio. The client wants to maintain their privacy and does not consent to Lucia publishing any photographs of the project on her website or social media.

Lucia got a little unlucky on this project. She will be able to resolve most of these issues, but only after significant legal wrangling, negotiations and costs. However, it’s a fair bet that she will have some sleepless nights ahead.

A number of these issues could have been avoided or mitigated with the proper legal documentation and contracts in place between Lucia and her client. These contracts would clearly set out the scope of her services, clarify her liability for the actions of other parties and spell out the client’s obligations as a participant in the project. Even the process of preparing and agreeing to the necessary documents would have helped Lucia and her client to understand exactly what each party was agreeing to and to resolve any latent misunderstandings before they caused a problem.

Aintree Group Legal will be happy to assist DIA members with your contracts and commercial documents, as well as all of your other business and personal matters. To book your free consultation, contact Peter Gandolfo, Director, Aintree Group Legal.

Although we offer this particular service to DIA members, we are happy to assist anyone else that needs it.