In Britain’s current architectural climate many practices consider the industry to be over-regulated. Architects argue that burdensome building standards stifle innovation and creativity, resulting in monotonous design. At the same time practitioners acknowledge a need for the state to take responsibility for the population’s health and safety. Architects Liam Ross and Tolulope Onabolu travelled to Lagos, Nigeria to reframe this debate and offer an alternative critique of regulation through an examination of risk, personal responsibility and sovereignty. The exploration compares Edinburgh and Lagos – two quite different legislative structures – and reflects on the different ways they distribute risk and responsibility between the state and individual. Their research provides a critique of the inclusive and universalist rhetoric of British building regulations and suggests that the purpose of rules is actually to generate the possibility of exceptions.