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Mr Elliot Thomas Goodall

THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD

PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE

In the matter of

Mr Elliot Thomas Goodall 083859D

Held on 3 and 4 March 2020

At

International Dispute Resolution Centre
70 Fleet Street
London
EC4Y 1EU

———-

Present

Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
David Kann (PCC Architect Member)
Martin Pike (PCC Lay Member

In this case, ARB is represented by Jon Goodwin Solicitor Advocate.
Mr Elliot Goodall has attended this hearing but is not legally represented.

The Professional Conduct Committee (“PCC”) found Mr Elliot Goodall guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (“UPC”) in that he:

  1. Produced drawings that were inaccurate and lacked adequate detail.

and that by doing so, he acted in breach of Standards 6 and 6.1 of the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice 2010 (“the Code”).

The sanction imposed is a reprimand.

The Charge and Allegations

1. Mr Goodall (“the Respondent”) faces a charge of unacceptable professional conduct (“UPC”) based on one allegation as follows:

1) Produced drawings that were inaccurate and/or lacked adequate detail.

In doing so, it is alleged that the Respondent acted in breach of Standards 2.1 and 6.1 of the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice 2010. (“the 2010 Code”) and Standards 2.1 and 6.1 of the Architects Code: Standards of Professional Conduct and Practice 2017 (“the 2017 Code”).

Background

2. This case arises following a referral made by Mr LL, a developer, in September 2018 (“the Complainant”).

3. The Respondent is employed by Studio Spicer Architects as a Senior Architect. The Respondent was engaged in relation to a project for the construction of five detached houses on a site at Spring Acre in 2015.

4. The Complainant alleged that the drawings included discrepancies in floor plans, elevations and window schedules which resulted in multiple drawing issues and problems with the construction on site. In particular, the drawing for plot 4 did not comply with the approved planning permission and resulted in the roof having to be demolished and rebuilt in April 2017.

5. Following these problems coming to light the Complainant firstly indicated that they were considering a claim for negligence in a letter dated 15 May 2018 against Studio Spicer Architects. In December 2018 the Complainant issued a Notice of Adjudication against Studio Spicer Architects limited to the issue of the roof on plot 4. On 31 January 2019 an Adjudicator decided in favour of the Complainant and ordered Studio Spicer to pay a proportion of the costs for demolishing and rebuilding the roof.

6. ARB investigated the complaint and appointed an Inquirer to provide a professional opinion. The Inquirer concluded that the Respondent’s drawings had fallen below the standard expected in relation to the lack of detail in the elevation drawings for all of the plots and the error in the drawing for plot 4 which did not comply with the planning permission.

7. The Respondent indicated in his response to ARB that the change to the drawing to plot 4 was as a result of a verbal discussion that he was not involved in, but he assumed it had been incorporated into an application to amend the planning permission. He also accepted that the elevation drawings lacked technical detail but that this was on the instruction of his senior partner.

8. However, at the outset of the hearing Mr Goodall admitted the allegation and admitted that the conduct amounted to UPC.

9. In reaching its decisions, the Committee has carefully considered the submissions made by Mr Goodwin and Mr Goodall and the evidence presented to it which comprises:

i. the Report of ARB’s Solicitor;
ii. the 209 pages of documents exhibited to it;
iii. the defence bundle of Mr Goodall.

10. The Committee has accepted the legal advice given by the Chair. It has had regard to the fact that the burden of proving the facts is on ARB and that the civil standard applies, namely the balance of probabilities. Whether the conduct alleged amounts to UPC is a matter for the Committee’s independent judgement to which no burden or standard of proof applies irrespective of the Respondent’s admission.

Findings on facts

11. The Committee makes the following findings of fact:

Allegation 1

12. On the basis of all the evidence and taking into account the admissions made by the Respondent, the Committee finds the facts of all allegations proved. The Committee is satisfied that the Respondent was the architect responsible for the drawings and that in relation to the drawings that related to plot 4 these were inaccurate and did not comply with the planning permission. With regard to the elevation drawing for all the plots the Committee was satisfied that these drawings lacked the required level of technical detail that the Complainant was entitled to expect. The Committee was satisfied that it was reasonable to expect the Respondent to have included further detail within these drawings.

13. The Committee considers that the Respondent’s actions breached both Standard 6 and 6.1 of the 2010 Code and the 2017 Code.

14. Standard 2.1 of the 2010 and 2017 Code are in identical terms and state:

“You are expected to be competent to carry out the professional work you undertake to do, and if you engage others to do that work they should be competent and adequately supervised.”

15. Standard 6 and 6.1 of the 2010 Code state:

6 You should carry out your professional work faithfully and conscientiously and with due regard to relevant technical and professional standards.
6.1 You are expected to carry out your work promptly and with skill and care and in accordance with the terms of your engagement.

16. Standard 6 and 6.1 of the 2017 Code state:

6 You should carry out your professional work conscientiously and with due regard to relevant technical and professional standards.
6.1 You are expected to carry out your work with skill and care and in accordance with the terms of your engagement.

17. By reason of the facts found proved, the Committee finds that the Respondent failed to work with skill and care in his preparation of the drawings. The Committee also finds that the Respondent did not have regard to the relevant technical and professional standards in his preparation of the drawings. The Committee is therefore satisfied that the Respondent acted in breach of Standards 6 and 6.1 of the 2010 Code and the 2017 Code.

18. The Committee were not satisfied that the Respondent’s actions were in breach of Standards 2 and 2.1 of the relevant Codes. There was no evidence before the Committee that the Respondent lacked the competence to carry out this work or that his failings were as a result of lack of competence. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent failed to apply the appropriate level of checking to the work he had undertaken, and this was adequately encompassed within the breaches of Standard 6 found proved.

Finding in relation to UPC:

19. Having found the allegations proved, the Committee went on to consider whether the Respondent’s conduct found proved amounts to UPC. UPC is defined as conduct which falls short of the standard required of a registered person.

20. In reaching its findings, the Committee has carefully considered all the evidence presented to it, all submissions made and has accepted the advice from the Chair. The Committee recognises that not every shortcoming on the part of an Architect, nor failure to comply with the provisions of the Code, will necessarily result in a finding of UPC. However, a failure to follow the guidance of the Code, whether in one’s professional or private life, is a factor that will be taken into account should it be necessary to examine the conduct or competence of an Architect.

21. The Committee has considered the authority of Spencer v General Osteopathic Council [2012] EWHC 3147 (Admin). It has borne in mind in reaching its decision that for a finding of unacceptable professional conduct to be made, “a degree of moral blameworthiness on the part of the registrant likely to convey a degree of opprobrium to the ordinary intelligent citizen” was required. Any failing should be serious. The Committee accepts that “mere negligence does not constitute misconduct” and that “a single negligent act or omission is less likely to cross the threshold of misconduct than multiple acts or omissions….a single instance of negligent treatment unless very serious indeed, would be unlikely to constitute deficient professional performance”.

22. It was admitted by the Respondent in his oral submissions that his actions amounted to UPC.

23. Failing to check the drawings for plot 4 complied with the planning permission was, in the Committee’s view, conduct which lacked skill and care that could reasonably be expected of the Respondent. This was especially so, as the Respondent indicated he had not been responsible for the preparation of the planning applications. Further, the Committee was satisfied that the Respondent should have been aware that the elevation drawings lacked sufficient detail and ought not have provided them without either including the relevant detail or making it very clear that further drawings would be required before the Complainant began construction.

24. The Respondent has recognised that his drawings were not of the standard that the Complainant had a right to expect and his actions fell short of what was required of an architect in his position. The Committee considered that the Respondent’s failings both individually and collectively amounted to a serious falling short of the standards expected of a Registered Architect and amount to UPC.

Sanction

25. The Respondent addressed the Committee in mitigation. The Committee also heard evidence from Mr S about the particular circumstances relating to the project and the Respondent’s employment generally. Mr Goodwin on behalf of ARB reminded the Committee of its earlier findings and the submissions he made regarding UPC.

26. The Committee considered ARB’s Sanctions Guidance and accepted the advice of the Chair.

27. The Committee then considered whether to impose a sanction, and if so, which one. The Committee has had regard to the public interest, which includes the need to protect the public, to maintain confidence in the profession and ARB and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct, behaviour and competence. The Committee has carefully considered all the evidence and submissions made during the course of this hearing. It has borne in mind that the purpose of imposing a sanction is not to be punitive although it may have a punitive effect. It has taken into account the Respondent’s interests, the Sanctions Guidance and the need to act proportionately. It has taken into account any aggravating and mitigating factors in this case. The Committee has exercised its own independent judgement.

28. The Committee has identified the following aggravating factor:

i. There was a significant impact on the Complainant in demolishing and rebuilding the roof.

29. Having considered all the matters before it, the Committee has identified the following mitigating factors:

i. that the Respondent has no adverse regulatory history in his career, and he was newly qualified and recently employed by Studio Spicer at the time of the matters giving rise to this complaint;
ii. he has fully engaged in the regulatory process and made admissions;
iii. he has taken steps to remediate his failings by changing practices and procedures;
iv. Mr S gave evidence attesting to the Respondent’s good character and professionalism;
v. he has expressed genuine regret and remorse for his conduct;
vi. the Committee considers the risk of repetition to be very low in view of the insight demonstrated by the Respondent into his failures and the steps taken to avoid these issues in the future.

30. The Committee notes that the matters found proved are serious to the extent that the Respondent’s failings diminish both his reputation and that of the profession generally. The Committee therefore concluded that the Respondent’s conduct was sufficiently serious for it to require the imposition of a sanction and has considered them in ascending order of severity.

31. The Committee first considered whether to impose a reprimand. The Committee considered that the Respondent demonstrated factors that would make this sanction appropriate including insight, a genuine expression of regret, previous good disciplinary history and corrective steps taken. The Committee had in mind the seriousness of the UPC found proved, and in particular reminded itself that the Respondent had acted without due skill and care and this had caused a loss to the Complainant. However, the Committee noted that some of the loss claimed had been recovered through the Adjudication process and paid by the Respondent’s employers. In addition, the Committee took into account the Respondent’s recent appointment at Studio Spicer and the fact that others at the practice were involved in this project at various stages.

32. The Committee considered that a reprimand was the necessary and appropriate sanction and that this was sufficient to protect the public. This sanction together with its findings in relation to UPC would be sufficient to mark the conduct as unacceptable and uphold the reputation of the profession.

33. In deciding that a reprimand was appropriate and necessary the Committee did consider whether a penalty order would be proportionate. The Committee does not consider the Respondent’s failings require a penalty order and considered his remorse and insight and the corrective steps taken to avoid repetition would make this sanction disproportionate in the circumstances.

34. The Committee therefore imposes a reprimand which will remain on the Respondent’s record and will be published for one year.

35. That concludes this determination.

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