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Response from Alison Carr, Registrar

A significant number of concerns have been raised about a short email which we sent to BD last week. I would like to explain what it’s about.

ARB has to investigate queries regarding individuals who use the title ‘architect’ in business or practice when they are not registered with ARB. This is what the law currently provides and what ARB is required to do. Sometimes we prosecute that person as a result of our investigations.

This is not the situation here. BD referred to two eminent individuals as architects- neither of whom are on the UK Register. This is one of a number of peripheral areas, and architects often contact us when they are concerned about the use of the title ‘architect’ in the press although no breach of the legislation in fact occurs.

In some cases, the public may genuinely be misled by the use of the term, whilst in others this is highly unlikely to happen. I believe that the BD case falls into the latter category.

So what happened in this case?

We received a complaint from an architect, and a short email was sent to BD. BD then called and spoke to ARB. We let the architect know we had followed up their query. No further action would have been taken by us on this case. However, it is up to BD what they do with our comments.

But do I think that this was a great example to bring to BD’s attention and help raise awareness? No I don’t. We should have been more cautious so that we get the right message across at the right time, and for that I apologise.

We have a policy for dealing with these situations and I have paraphrased it below:

Where the restricted title ‘architect’ is used but not in connection with business or practice:-

  1. In these situations, we should consider whether there is benefit in raising the public awareness. Is the term used with the knowledge or authority of the individual or practice? If so, then it is helpful to draw their attention to the restrictions under the Act and ask for their confirmation that they understand these restrictions and request that they assist us in using the title carefully and not in breach of the legislation.
  2. If the title is used in a newspaper/editorial/descriptor, then it would be helpful to inform the Editor (but not for publication) with regard to the restrictions and ask that they help by using the term correctly, but we should not allege any breach of the Act.
  3. We should advise any complainant that whilst we do not necessarily believe it is a breach of the Act, we will be writing to raise awareness. In such correspondence, we should not raise the complainant’s expectations that we can take any action.

I believe ARB’s policy in this regard remains correct. We should continue to raise the press’s awareness of the UK legislation where there is a public interest. The position is different for the professional press such as BD, and we hope that they have a greater understanding of the position than others. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t alert them if we think they are not reflecting UK legislation.

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