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Serious concerns about architects are rare. On the limited occasions they do occur, as the UK regulator we are here to ensure standards, and therefore trust, in the profession is maintained. We hope the information published about conduct and competence decisions provides useful learning points for others.

On 29 June 2020, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued Mr Timothy James Brown of Ashton Design, Cumbria with a reprimand following an admission of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).

Mr Brown had been instructed to provide architectural services, including the preparation of planning drawings, for a new build bungalow. Mr Brown’s client raised concerns with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) after a disagreement arose between the parties over who the project manager was.

While most of the concerns of the client did not result in any allegation against Mr Brown, he accepted he had failed to provide adequate terms of engagement to his client at the outset of the contract and throughout the project, which led to the client’s confusion in the client’s mind.

Mr Brown agreed this amounted to UPC. He waived his right to have the case heard at a public hearing and agreed a decision could be made by the PCC on the basis of the papers alone.

In considering the case, the PCC noted Mr Brown’s admission and insight into his failings, along with his good disciplinary history, while acknowledging the potential impact of his actions on the reputation of the profession. The PCC concluded there was a low risk of repetition and considered a reprimand to be the appropriate disciplinary order to impose.

A copy of the Consent Order can be found here.

—ENDS—

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Notes for Editors

• 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 UK 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

• ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.

• 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

• Money raised by fines imposed by the Professional Conduct Committee is paid to HM Treasury.

• Where an architect admits unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence and the proposed disciplinary sanction, the PCC can impose that penalty by consent, and without the need for a hearing.

• ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.

For further information please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) by email at media@arb.or.uk or 020 7580 5861.

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