At a hearing on 30 August 2019, the Court of Session in Edinburgh heard an appeal against the decision of the ARB Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 1 November 2018 to erase Neil Rothnie from the Architects Register.
The Court rejected all the grounds of appeal.
The PCC had found Mr Rothnie guilty of serious professional incompetence (SPI) and unacceptable professional conduct (UPC) for providing an incompetent design for property in Aberdeenshire and failing to respond adequately to communications. This followed an earlier finding by of UPC against Mr Rothnie for a similar matter in 2014.
It was submitted to the Court that the finding of SPI and the sanction of erasure was unnecessary and unreasonable, and that the PCC members had failed to properly deal with a perception that they may be biased.
The Lordships saw no reason to intervene with the decision of the PCC which in their view had been properly made. Costs in the case were awarded to ARB.
Notes for Editors
o ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one independent, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
o The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects
o The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The PCC determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence.
Where a guilty finding is made, the PCC will consider whether to make a disciplinary order, which means:
– a reprimand
– a penalty order
– a suspension order (to a maximum of 2 years); or
– an erasure order
o Money raised by fines imposed by the Professional Conduct Committee is paid to HM Treasury.
o Under the Architects Act 1997 the statutory route of appeal against sanctions imposed by the PCC is to the High Court, and to the Court of Session if the architect is registered in Scotland
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