How to sue an architect in Canada

While it’s always best to consult a professional liability lawyer on how to sue an architect, use this guide as your starting point
How to sue an architect in Canada

If you’ve suffered property damage and financial loss due to a construction project, you may think of filing a case against your architect. There are legal aspects that you must first consider in knowing how to sue an architect based on Canada’s laws.

How does one sue an architect in Canada?

Suing an architect is possible in Canada, and such a case falls under the area of professional liability.

Here, professionals are held liable for their acts, omissions, or negligence that caused substantial damage to their client. This may apply not only to architects, but also to insurance agents, doctors, and other professionals.

Most of the time, architects (or even engineers) are sued when:

  • the project is delayed
  • the construction caused an injury
  • clients suffer financial losses or damage regarding the construction’s completion

Not all circumstances may justify filing a case against your architect. It would be best to know how to sue an architect under Canada’s laws.

What are the most common claims against architects in Canada?

Common law provides for numerous causes of action that may be your basis for claiming damages and other remedies against your architect.

A cause of action is your legal basis for filing a case in court. As a plaintiff in the case, you should be able to prove this by presenting convincing evidence.

Breach of Contract

One of the most common ways of knowing how to sue an architect is by the terms and conditions of the contract itself.

The contract with your architect spells out all the rights and obligations of both parties in a project. If any of these terms and conditions are violated, you will have cause for action against your architect.

Some examples of a breach of contract that may be committed by your architect are:

  • Design was not followed: when the design as agreed by both parties has not been followed by the architect, which resulted in structural defects
  • Defects in the design: when the site plans, floor plans, elevations, etc. made by your architect are erroneous, faulty, or are not according to industrial standards
  • Unjustified delays: when there’s unreasonable delay in the completion of the project against the terms of the contract, which may be due to gross negligence or misconduct

Here’s an actual case of owners suing their architect and other professionals for breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence:

It’s important to check with a professional liability lawyer on the strength of your case. Talk to a lawyer in your province. If you’re from Vancouver, for example, contact a professional liability lawyer in British Columbia as ranked by Lexpert.

Professional Negligence

There can be many ways that an architect can be sued for negligence, such as:

  • Before the construction: negligent in preparing the architectural plans (e.g., undervalued budget planning)
  • During the construction: negligent in supervising or inspecting the of project, i.e., poor project management

For a case of negligence to be proven in court, it must be established that you suffered substantial damages and that its cause was your architect’s gross negligence.


In addition, the damages you suffered may also be a basis in suing your architect. This may be caused by your architect’s breach of contract, negligence, or for some other reason.

Some instances of this damage which could have been prevented are:

  • A person’s injury or death
  • financial losses or additional costs (e.g., building’s repairs)
  • damage to the property caused by a triggering event (e.g., fire, flashflood)

Provincial laws on architecture

The different provinces and territories of Canada have enacted laws which:

  • govern and regulate the practice of architecture in the province
  • establish the regulatory body or association of architects in the province
  • govern the licensing of architects (and interior designers) as administered by the regulatory body of the province

These provincial or territorial laws on architects may also be your basis for suing an architect in your province or territory. Some of these laws are:

These laws provide for offences that a person, or an architect, may commit against their clients. This includes professional misconduct or misrepresentation by using the title “architect” without the proper license.

There is professional misconduct on the part of your architect if they acted (or did not act) according to the provincial Code of Ethics or generally accepted standards. This may also be based on other reasonable customary conduct expected of architects as professionals in their field.

Read more: Can I sue my architect for taking too long?

Is there a limit on when can I sue an architect in Canada?

Guidelines on civil cases are set by your provincial statute of limitations. This means that after the period prescribed by law, you are barred from filing a case against your architect.

For example, there are two types of limitations under Ontario’s Limitations Act, 2002:

  • Basic Limitation Period: 2 years (section 4)
  • Ultimate Limitation Period: 15 years (section 15)

The Basic Limitation Period states that upon discovery (section 5), you only have two years to file your claim in court; otherwise, it will only be dismissed.

When filing a case against your architect, the 2 years may start to run:

  • after the completion or turn-over of the constructed building or project, or
  • after the defect or problem was discovered due to some injury, loss, or damage that occurred

The Ultimate Limitation Period also applies, regardless of whether the Basic Limitation Period has run or not. This means that after 15 years that the architect has rendered their services, you are forever barred from filing a case against them.

For other provinces, a similar statute of limitations is also enacted. In British Columbia, we have the Limitation Act which follows similar periods with Ontario. You may also check with a professional liability lawyer for your provincial statute of limitations.

In addition, each of the above-mentioned Architects Act may also have its separate limitations regarding the offences it provides.

Who regulates architects in Canada?

In Canada, regulation of architects is governed by the provincial and territorial governments. This is then delegated to the regulatory bodies or association of architects established by the above-mentioned provincial statutes.

Enforcement of these statutes is the primary responsibility of these regulators or associations. In addition, the mandates, responsibilities, and organization of these bodies are also outlined in these laws.

Some of these regulatory bodies or associations of architects are:

  • Ontario: Ontario Association of Architects
  • Québec: Ordre des architectes du Québec
  • British Columbia: Architectural Institute of British Columbia
  • Alberta: Alberta Association of Architects
  • Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Association of Architects

In addition to filing a case in court against your architect, you may also submit a complaint against them with these regulatory bodies.

Want to know more about how to sue an architect in Canada? Hear more from any of the Lexpert-Ranked professional liability lawyers in Canada.