“Fit-for-Purpose” Requirement: Why It’s Crucial?
When developing systems, manufacturing goods or constructing structures, one of the most critical aspects to consider is whether they are “fit-for-purpose.” In essence, this means that the end product is designed to meet specific functionality, safety, and performance standards that are required for their intended use.
This principle is particularly crucial in engineering and construction projects, where the design and construction of a structure, when completed and put in operation, must be “fit-for-purpose”. It is not enough for such structure to simply look good; it must perform safely and as intended.
For example, in constructing an offices’ building, the employer (owner) defines his requirements including objectives and functional requirements, required built-up areas and intended occupancy requirements. Accordingly, the designer, while complying with all applicable regulatory requirements and national building codes, shall ensure that the building design accommodates for the employer (owner) requirements so that once building constructed and completed, it shall meet the employer’s (Owner’s) intended purposes.. Similarly, bridges must be designed to account for the objectives and functional requirements thereof, anticipated loads, environmental factors, and possible dangers like earthquakes and flooding.
But it’s not just about buildings and structures. Products must also be designed with “fit-for-purpose” in mind. The design should take into account the intended user, operating environment, and product life cycle to ensure that it fulfills the precise demands and specifications of its intended purpose. This approach can improve the overall performance and value of the product by preventing issues and malfunctions.
The legal framework in Jordan recognizes the “Fit-For-Purpose” concept by differentiating between obligations for “Due Care” and obligations for “Achieving Results”; while under the former concept the service provider is not obliged to guarantee the end results but rather perform in due care as required under his profession (i.e. lawyers and doctors), the service provider under the latter is obliged to provide a regulatory compliant end product that meets the intended purposes and requirements of its users/owners (i.e. products developers and structures engineering designers).
Understanding the legal implications of the Fit-For-Purpose concept, it’s scope as well as the implicit vs. explicit requirements thereof is critical for clients in order to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the related transaction and be able to manage expectations toward achieving their desired goals.
Jawad M. Zeidat