Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 August 2009
A is a manufacturer of computer hardware who wants a new building designed in which to house his operations for the production of hardware. In February he approaches B, a specialist architect, and B begins negotiations with a view to his being engaged as architect for the project. B's policy is not to undertake more than one commission at a time, nor is he prepared to compete in competitive tendering; and in the hope of concluding a contract with A for his services he does preparatory work on plans and specifications for the building he would propose to design, without yet concluding any contract with A. A had also, at the same time, begun negotiations with C, another architect, but did not tell B. A year later, A contracts with C to be the architect on the project, having negotiated with C as well as with B throughout the period. B discovers this only after C's contract with A is concluded. No contract is at any stage concluded between A and B, but B complains that he would never have undertaken the preparatory work (because of his policy on tendering and single-project work) had he known of the negotiations with C. What liability (in contract, tort, restitution, or any other form of liability), if any, does A have to B arising out of A's parallel negotiations? Would it make any difference if A knew of B's policy on tendering and single-project work?