Mr Thomas Smith
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
Mr Thomas Smith (083007K)
Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
David Kann (PCC Architect Member)
Martin Pike (PCC Lay Member)
The Respondent, Thomas Smith:
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 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 Thomas Smith in the terms set out below:
1. The Allegation
A charge of unacceptable professional conduct has been brought by the ARB against the Respondent in that:
1. Mr Smith failed adequately, or at all, to prepare tender documentation and/or carry out a competitive tender process.
2. Mr Smith failed adequately to communicate with his client, in that he did not keep his client informed of matters affecting costs.
3. Mr Smith failed to deal with a complaint adequately and/or promptly.
2. Statement of agreed facts
1. The Respondent was engaged in 2014-2015 in connection with the conversion and change of use of a residential dwelling house to a non-residential nursery school. He was instructed to prepare and submit the planning application, the design work and in connection with the building work.
2. As part of the terms of appointment the Respondent agreed to, among other things, finalise designs, prepare tender documentation and oversee the tender process and appointment of a contractor. The Complainant believed that this entailed a competitive tender process and that the appointment of the contractor, Mansel Land, was the result of that process.
3. The Respondent had considered and approached a number of contractors and, in October 2014, showed two around the site. Neither was interested in the work, or available to carry it out in the timeframe discussed. The Respondent provided a set of drawings and schedules (which he considered to be tender documentation) to one contractor, Mansel Land, to price the work in January 2015. Mansel Land was available, and was appointed to the project as part of a negotiated tender. The process by which Mansel Land was appointed as contractor occurred at the same time as the Respondent carried out a competitive tender for joinery work with other companies. The Respondent failed to adequately prepare tender documentation and/or carry out a competitive tender process for the appointment of the contractor.
4. As part of the retainer the Respondent was required to keep the Complainant informed of the progress of work and of any issue which may significantly affect the costs. The Respondent failed adequately to advise the Complainant as to the cost of variations instructed during the construction phase of the project. Interim certificates were issued between 7 April 2015 and 22 May 2015 with the contractor’s draft final account for the works being sent to the Complainant on 2 July 2015. Practical completion was certified on 15 May 2015.
5. Subsequently, the Respondent provided to the Complainant three variation certificates which included prices for items of work which included prices for items of work which had not been approved in writing with the Complainant and/or additional charges for items that should have been included within the fixed prices provided for in the contract.
6. By letter dated 10 May 2016 the Complainant wrote to the Respondent by way of Complaint. Whilst the Respondent acknowledged the same by email dated 25 May 2016, he failed to deal with the substantive complaints at that time. There was further correspondence between the Complainant and the Respondent which resulted in an email from the Complainant dated 21 June 2017 indicating that she expected a detailed response addressing all of the issues raised in the original complaint. The Respondent failed to deal with the complaint adequately and/or promptly.
7. Following a complaint to the ARB on 25 August 2017 the Investigations Panel reached a decision on 29 May 2018 and resolved to refer the case to the Professional Conduct Committee, resulting in the allegations particularised herein.
8. The Respondent admits the allegations as set out above.
3. Statement as to unacceptable professional conduct
The Respondent admits the ‘allegations’ particularised above amounts to unacceptable professional conduct because of the seriousness of the breaches and a disciplinary order is necessary as set out under Section 15 (1) (a) of the Architects Act 1997.
4. 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:
• A penalty order in the sum of £1,250 pursuant to Section 15 (2) (b) of the Architects Act 1997.
Taking into account the Indicative Sanctions Guidance a penalty order is the appropriate sanction. It is necessary to mark the conduct of the Respondent as being unacceptable but there is evidence of insight into the failings and a previous good disciplinary history. In particular, the Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee notes that the Respondent and his firm have put in place a number of measures as a direct result of learnings from the project.