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Mr Olaf Kneer

THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD

PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE

 

In the matter of

Mr Claus Olaf Hans Kneer (065257A)

———-

Julian Weinberg (Chair)

Judy Carr (PCC Architect Member)

Stephen Neale (PCC Lay Member)

———–

 

In respect of the charges against Olaf Kneer (the Respondent):

Olaf Kneer:

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 order against Olaf Kneer in the terms set out below:

The Allegation:

An allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct 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 at Casper Mueller Kneer Architects.

2. In August 2017, the Respondent was first approached by the Complainant to assist with the development of a small flat (“the Property”). The works proposed involved removing and replacing a kitchen and bathroom, installing new cupboards and laying new floors as well as painting.

3. On 1 September 2017 the Respondent and Complainant met to fully discuss the proposed works. Following that meeting, the Respondent emailed the Complainant setting out briefly what had been discussed and his hourly charging rates. That email did not include full terms of engagement as required under Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. The Respondent did not issue any further documentation detailing the full terms of engagement, including clear detail on the agreed scope and extent of his role.

4. The Complainant had a strict timetable in place for the works to be completed in line with her professional commitments. She set a deadline of Friday 12 January 2018.

5. The Respondent prepared relevant drawings and the parties liaised about those and next steps. This included the appointment of a contractor.

6. The Respondent and Complainant met with a potential contractor who provided a cost estimate of £35,000 plus VAT. The contractor advised he was able to commence works on 11 December 2017 and complete the works by 15 January 2018. The Complainant therefore agreed to his appointment.

7. The works in fact commenced on 9 December 2017. The Complainant was not resident at the Property for the duration of the works.

8. By early January the works were not going to be completed by the 15 January 2018 deadline. The Complainant agreed to extend the completion date by one week. The works were not completed within that timeframe either.

9. On 22 January 2018 the Respondent emailed the Complainant to advise that he expected all major items to be completed by Friday that week. He also emailed the contractor and advised the Complainant was unhappy about the on-going delays.

10. The Complainant attended at the Property on 1 February 2018 and remained concerned about the state of the works. She spoke with the contractor and asked him and his team to leave.

11. As a result of the above the Complainant was not able to use the Property to both live in and for work for a delayed period of time.

Admissions

12. The Respondent accepts that he did not provide adequate terms of engagement at the outset of the contract or throughout. The Respondent admits that he had a professional obligation to provide the Complainant with adequate terms of engagement.

13. The ARB accepts that the Respondent did provide some information at the outset, for example on his fees. However, the Respondent admits that he had a professional obligation to provide the Complainant with adequate terms of engagement. The Respondent accepts that the initial email of 1 September 2017 did not adequately detail the Respondent’s role in the project or the scope of each party’s role. Further, whilst the terms of engagement did set out hourly rates, the Respondent accepts that he did not provide the Respondent with any explanation as to his anticipated number of hours on the project.

14. The Respondent admits that the terms of engagement did not provide details of provision for suspension/termination of the agreement, details of insurance or information on complaints handling. The Respondent accepts that all of this information ought to have been provided at the outset in accordance with the requirements of the Code

Statement as to Unacceptable Professional Conduct:

15. In light of the admissions above, the Respondent further admits that this matter amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.

16. Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code 2017 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. As a result of not providing written terms of engagement, the Respondent did not provide adequate details as to:

• The contracting parties;
• The scope of the work;
• The fee or method of calculating it;
• Who will be responsible for what;
• Any constraints of limitations on the responsibilities of the parties;
• The provisions for suspension or termination of the agreement;
• A statement that the Respondent had adequate and appropriate insurance cover as specified by the ARB;
• Any complaints-handling procedure, including details of any special arrangements for resolving disputes.

17. The Respondent accepts that it was necessary for him to provide adequate written terms of engagement for the project, as required under standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. A failure to provide adequate terms is serious because, as in this case, it can lead to the potential for misunderstanding and confusion about important matters such as who is responsible for which aspects of a project.

18. The Complainant did not appear to understand the Respondent’s role and responsibilities in the project. The lack of terms of engagement seems to have led the Complainant to misunderstand the Respondent’s role and its limitations. Whilst the Respondent’s role in the project may have evolved over the timespan of the project, this was not recorded or agreed in writing, in accordance with the ARB’s Code of Conduct.

Disciplinary Order

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:

19. In all of the circumstances the Respondent agrees to the sanction of a Reprimand.

20. 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.

21. 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 low risk of repetition, the parties agree that a reprimand is an appropriate and proportionate disciplinary order to impose.

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