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Courts impose fines for misusing the title “architect”

On 27 January 2015, The Market Design & Build Ltd of Harlington, Middlesex were ordered to pay over £10,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to misusing the title ‘architect’ in their business, in breach of the Architects Act 1997.

Uxbridge Magistrates Court heard that The Market Design & Build Ltd did not employ an architect but had continued to refer to itself as ‘Architects’ and use the logo of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) on its correspondence, website and advertising – including signage on company vehicles. It continued to hold itself in this manner despite numerous warnings from ARB that it was acting illegally.

Uxbridge Magistrates Court took the view that these were serious breaches and commented that offences like these impinge on architects who spend a minimum of seven years training and are subject to registration fees; when companies avoid such costs, they gain a big financial advantage.  The Market Design & Build entered guilty pleas to all five offences and the Court imposed a fine of £1667 on each of the 5 charges – a total of £8335. In addition, the practice was ordered to pay a further £2300 to ARB in legal costs.

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The previous day (26 January) a different case of misuse of title was heard by Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court, when a Mr Youno Kim trading as Extension Architects was found guilty of illegally using the title ‘architect’.

The Court heard that Mr Kim held himself out to be a ‘RIBA Chartered  Architect’ on his practice’s website despite not being an architect, and continued to trade as ‘Extension Architects’ without having an architect in control and management of the architectural work of the practice.
Mr Kim entered a guilty plea and the Court imposed a fine of £1000 and also ordered Mr Kim to pay a further £1000 in costs to ARB.

A spokesperson on behalf of ARB’s Professional Standards Department said:

Only registered architects are legally allowed to use the title ‘architect’ in business or practice. The ARB takes seriously its duty to represent the interests of users of architects’ services. These prosecutions demonstrate the serious consequences for anyone that persists in misleading the public. Anyone wishing to use the services of an architect should check the Register of Architects at www.architects-register.org.uk ‘

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Notes for Editors

ARB is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. The Act requires ARB, among other things, to regulate use of the title “architect” and to take action when it is being used unlawfully (Section 20).

ARB has a Board of 15 members, seven of whom are architects elected by the profession. The remaining eight are members of the public appointed by the Privy Council to represent the interests of consumers and users of architectural services.

The maximum fine for each offence, currently £2500, is set by the Architects Act 1997. Magistrates determine the amount of the fine (and related costs) after considering the nature of the offence and any mitigation put forward by the defendant. Money raised from fines is paid to HM Treasury, not to ARB.

For further information, please contact Simon Howard, Professional Standards Manager, on 020 7580 5861, or by email on simonh@arb.org.uk.

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