Mr Christopher Hardaker
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
Mr Christopher Hardaker (053756J)
In respect of the charge against Christopher Ivan Hardaker:
Christopher Ivan Hardaker:
a. accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee making a disciplinary order against him in the terms set out below;
b. confirms that he has been offered the opportunity to appear before a Hearing Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee to present his case, but does not wish to do so.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Professional Conduct Committee making a disciplinary against Christopher Ivan Hardaker in the terms set out below:
An allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct (“UPC”) has been brought by the ARB against the Respondent. The ARB has particularised the allegation as follows:
(1) The Architect did not enter into a written agreement with the client which adequately covered the terms of engagement contrary to standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
Statement of agreed facts:
1. The Respondent is a registered Architect and runs his own company, Chris Hardaker Architects of Bryngwilla Lodge, St Martins, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 7AY. In 2016, the Respondent was appointed by Mr RB to assist with works proposed at Mr RB’s home (“the Property”). The proposed works included, amongst other things, the installation of a new driveway.
2. After initial discussions in July 2016, Mr RB and his wife attended at the Respondent’s offices on 23 August 2016 to discuss the scope of the works to be carried out and associated costs. Mr RB wanted the works to be completed by the end of November 2016. Following the meeting, the Respondent emailed Mr RB a copy of his meeting notes on 31 August 2016.
3. A Contractor was appointed and following a meeting between the Respondent and Mr RB in October 2016, a provisional start date of 1 November 2016 was agreed. The first work to be carried out was to replace the driveway. The works did not start on 1 November 2016 and the lifting of the original driveway took three to four days, being completed on or around 17 November 2016.
4. The blocks for the new driveway were delivered to the Property on or around 23 November 2016 and the Contractor arranged for a team to lay the block pave driveway, which took a period of about six weeks. The initial estimate Mr RB had been given for this work was a period of two weeks.
5. Mr RB raised his concerns with the Respondent and emailed him on 14 December 2016 noting that he had not received any terms and conditions, and requesting that the works to the driveway be completed by 16 December 2016.
6. The Respondent attended at the Property on 16 December 2016 to carry out a snagging inspection. He prepared snagging notes and emailed those to Mr RB on 19 December 2016, noting defects with the laying of the block driveway. The Respondent confirmed that the Contractor had agreed to remedy the defects in the drive.
7. The Contractor did not remedy the issues with the driveway and Mr RB expressed his frustration at the on-going delays at regular intervals. On 9 March 2017, Mr RB emailed both the Respondent and the Contractor complaining about the service that he had received. Mr RB also sought advice from a company about the driveway and they prepared a report identifying deficiencies in the driveway and setting out the expected cost of remedial works, which they estimated to be around £17,540 plus VAT. That report identified that the driveway was not level, the damp proof course had been breached to the front of the house and that a large number of blocks were damaged on installation.
8. Further correspondence was exchanged between the Respondent and Mr RB about the way forward in April 2017, with the Respondent advising that he was in contact with the Contractor about the issues that needed to be addressed.
9. On around 12 April 2017, Mr RB asked the Respondent to terminate the Contractor’s appointment. The Respondent then subsequently advised that he had spoken to the Contractor who was considering seeking assistance for the remedial works that were required. Further discussions were had with regard to the remedial works in April and early May 2017. Throughout this time, Mr RB made a number of requests to the Respondent that he issue a default notice or termination letter to the Contractor but this was not done.
10. No solution was reached as to how the defects in the works would be resolved and on 17 May 2017, Mr RB terminated the Respondent’s contract. Mr Bedson wrote two letters of complaint to the Respondent on 12 June 2017 and the Respondent replied on 20 July 2017. Mr RB referred the matter to the ARB on 26 June 2017.
11. Mr RB’s position is that at no stage did he receive any formal written terms of engagement from the Respondent, as required under standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. The Respondent had a professional obligation to provide Mr RB with terms of engagement.
12. The Respondent had admitted that he did not provide formal terms of engagement to Mr Bedson and that he adopted a less formal approach. The Respondent and Mr RB had previously worked together on other projects since 2003.
13. The Respondent accepts that the meeting notes that were provided from the initial meeting in August 2016 were not an appropriate or adequate substitute for a formal letter of engagement.
Statement as to unacceptable professional conduct:
14. In light of the admission above, the Respondent further admits that the agreed facts collectively amount to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
15. Standard 4.4 of the ARB Code states that an Architect is expected to ensure that they enter into a written agreement with the client which adequately covers a number of matters including the scope of the work, who will be responsible for what and details of fees and/or the method of calculating fees. The Architect is expected to enter into this written agreement with the client prior to undertaking any professional work.
16. Whilst the Respondent did provide notes of the initial meeting with Mr RB, those meeting notes were not an adequate substitute for a written agreement. The meeting notes did not adequately and/or at all clarify:
– Contracting parties;
– Scope of work;
– Who was responsible for what;
– Provision for suspension/termination of the agreement;
– Details of insurance;
– Complaints handling information.
17. The Respondent advises that he has now taken steps to ensure that this matter does not occur again. He has adopted the RIBA Conditions of Appointment “Small Works 2012” as a standard form for letters of appointment and since this matter was raised he has provided all current clients with a copy of his Complaints Procedure.
18. The Respondent and Mr RB had a long standing professional relationship but the Respondent acknowledges that it was still necessary for him to provide formal written terms of engagement.
19. The Respondent has accepted his error and has adopted a new practice to ensure that such situations do not arise in the future.
The Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee, with the consent of the parties and having taken account of its responsibilities to protect the public and maintain the reputation of the profession, makes the following disciplinary order:
20. In all of the circumstances the Respondent agrees to a penalty order of a reprimand.
21. The Respondent has engaged in the regulatory process and has admitted the factual allegation. He has also admitted that this amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct. He has no adverse regulatory history and he has demonstrated insight into his failing and has addressed the situation by taking corrective action by adopting the RIBA Conditions of Appointment “Small Works 2012” as a standard form for letters of appointment.
22. The admitted allegation has the potential to diminish both the Respondent’s reputation and that of the profession generally and therefore the parties agree that the Respondent’s conduct was sufficiently serious to require the imposition of a disciplinary order. In light of the mitigating factors identified and the low risk of repetition, the parties agree that a reprimand is an appropriate and proportionate order.