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 13 November 2019 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued architect Mr Kevin Fitzpatrick with a reprimand (a warning) after he admitted to unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).
ARB’s investigation arose as result of a self-referral by Mr Fitzpatrick following a disciplinary meeting with his employer that led to his dismissal in February 2019. The resulting allegations put to the PCC were that Mr Fitzpatrick failed to act with integrity by knowingly copying sensitive business information from the systems of two practices onto a personal, electronic storage device. It was also alleged that he failed to adequately manage and safeguard client records by downloading designs and information relating to former clients onto the personal electronic storage system.
Mr Fitzpatrick attended the hearing in Edinburgh, and accepted that he had acted without integrity and that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. When considering sanction, the PCC noted Mr Fitzpatrick had no history of previous regulatory breaches, his prompt disclosure to ARB and that he had expressed genuine regret and remorse for his conduct. The PCC also heard evidence from Mr Fitzpatrick on the steps he had taken to avoid repetition of his actions including attending courses on GDPR and developing a compliant process for portfolio work.
The PCC concluded that while Mr Fitzpatrick’s failings fell short of the standards expected of an architect they noted there had been no malice in his actions and that he had not benefitted from them financially. Taking all mitigating and aggravating factors into account, the PCC concluded a reprimand was the appropriate sanction.
A copy of the PCC Decision can be found here.
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.
For further information, please contact Kate Howlett, Communications Lead on 020 7580 5861 or by email at KateH@arb.org.uk.