Professional Standards Guidance Note – Guidance for architects appearing before ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee
You should read this guidance together with the Board’s Investigation and Professional Conduct Committee Rules.
Before the Hearing
We will give you at least 42 days’ notice of the hearing date and venue and we will also send you a copy of the Board’s Solicitor’s Report. In line with the Board’s Rules, you then have 14 days to let us know whether you will attend the hearing and/or contest the charges. You will also need to let us know whether you will be legally represented, give details of any witnesses you intend to call and set out a brief outline of your defence.
You may find it helpful to have legal representation, but this isn’t a requirement. The Bar Council offers free services and you can call them on 020 7611 9500 to find out if you are eligible to receive these.
You must let us have all the documents you intend to rely on no later than two calendar weeks before the hearing date. This helps to ensure that the hearing runs smoothly and that no undue delays arise. The Committee may decide that documents submitted later than this date are not admissible.
If you choose not to attend the hearing, the Committee may decide to hear the case in your absence if it is satisfied that you have had ample opportunity to be present. Please note that the Committee has the power to suspend you or erase your name from the Register of Architects, even if you do not attend the hearing.
Adjournments will only be granted at the discretion of the Clerk to the Committee. If you wish to apply for an adjournment you should contact us as soon as possible. Further information on adjournments is available here.
The Professional Conduct Committee hearing your case is made up of one member of the public, one architect and a legally-qualified Chair nominated by the President of the Law Society. A Clerk to the Committee will also be present to assist the Committee with advice on points of law. A member of ARB’s staff will also be present to deal with any queries you might have.
After the Committee introduces itself, the Clerk will read the charges to you and ask if you admit or deny them. The Board’s Solicitor will then present their case, calling on any witnesses or experts that they consider relevant to your case. After you have been invited to cross-examine any witnesses (if appropriate), you or your representative will have the opportunity to present your defence against the charges and call your own witnesses.
If you lodge a guilty plea, or the Committee finds you guilty of any of the charges brought against you, you or your representatives will have the opportunity to put forward mitigation before the Committee makes any disciplinary order.
When the Committee has heard all the evidence, it will retire to consider the case. The Committee will ask the Clerk to be present if it requires legal or procedural advice, and will usually announce its decision on the day.
The Architects Act gives the Committee the power to impose the following sanctions:
- No order
- Reprimand (warning)
- Penalty Order (fine)
- Suspension from the Register
- Erasure from the Register
The hearing is held in public and members of the press or the public can attend. The proceedings are recorded and a transcript is made of the Committee’s decision.
The burden of proof lies with the Board’s Solicitor, and the Committee makes its findings on the civil standard of proof (the balance of probabilities). If you intend to rely on the evidence of others, it is important to understand that less weight will be placed on their statement if they are not present at the hearing. Please be aware that there are rules about calling witnesses and you should contact ARB if you have any queries on this point.
After the Hearing
We will send you a transcript of the Committee’s decision, along with information about making an appeal. The transcript of the full hearing is also available, although we do make a charge for this.
If the Committee makes a finding of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence against you, we will publish that decision on our website. We will also issue a news release which is circulated to the architectural press and to the profession, as well as being published on our website.