At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 8 December 2011, architect John Roland Bishop of Essex was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and fined £1000. He was found not guilty of serious professional incompetence.Mr Bishop did not attend the hearing but had made written representations.
The allegations were brought on two separate complaints. In respect of the first complaint, Mr Bishop was appointed to prepare and submit a planning and building notice application for a domestic extension. The charges brought against himin respect of this first complaint were both unacceptable professional conduct and serious professional incompetence.
The allegation of serious professional incompetence arose from an allegation that the building regulation application contained inaccurate information in respect of tree positions,the foundation depth and soil stack location. Whilst the Committee found the allegation proved in part, it concluded that any failing did not warrant a finding of serious professional incompetence.
The allegations brought in respect of unacceptable professional conduct were firstly, that Mr Bishop failed to adequately set out his terms of contract and secondly, that he rendered invoices for work which had not been previously agreed despite a clear instruction that all costs should be agreed prior to work commencing. Both allegations were found proved.
Thirdly, that the deposit paid by the complainant was not paid into a client account. The Committee found this allegation unproved as, based on the evidence before it, there appeared to have been some confusion as to whether the sum paid represented a deposit or a payment of fees on account.
Fourthly, that Mr Bishop disclosed confidential information relating to the prospective project to his client’s neighbour without consent. The Committee was not satisfied that the information disclosed was confidential and found this allegation unproved.
The final allegation was that Mr Bishop failed to release plans to the complainant. This allegation was also found unproved as the Committee could see no evidence of the complainant having requested any drawings, and that the oral evidence presented by the complainant was that Mr Bishop would not have deliberately withheld documentation.
In respect of the second complaint, the allegations brought were that although Mr Bishop had been approached only to quote for work, and despite having been asked on numerous occasions not to proceed, Mr Bishop took it upon himself to carry out and charge for work for which he had not been instructed. Further, he showed the complainant’s property to one of his clients without first obtaining any consent. It was alleged that these actions were contrary to Standard 1 of the 2002 Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice. The Committee found these allegations proved.
Based on the allegations found proved, the Committee found Mr Bishop guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. In considering the penalty, the Committee noted that although Mr Bishop had engaged with the disciplinary process, he had shown no contrition for his actions and made no reference to any corrective steps that had been taken in light of the complaints. In the circumstances, it was decided that the appropriate sanction was a penalty order in the sum of £1000.
Notes for Editors
ARB is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. The Act requires ARB (among other things) to:
• Maintain the Register of Architects (Section 3)
• Prescribe qualifications for entry to the Register of Architects (Section 4)
• Deal with competence to practise (Section 9)
• Issue a Code which lays down standards of professional conduct and practice (Section 13)
• Regulate use of the title “architect” and prosecute those who use it unlawfully (Section 20)
Any money raised by fines imposed by the Professional Conduct Committee is paid to HM Treasury.