On 25 May 2016 Mr Andrew Plumridge of Peter Scott & Partners, Newbury, Berkshire, was convicted on five counts of the criminal offence of misusing the title ‘architect’. A District Judge sitting at Reading Magistrates’ Court heard that despite having been erased from the Register of Architects in 2013 for unacceptable professional conduct, Mr Plumridge had continued to practice under the name, style or title of ‘architect’, contrary to section 20 of the Architects Act 1997.
Mr Plumridge was charged in relation to using the title in planning applications; when taking out an advert with Yell.com; by using the acronym RIBA after his name, and through the use of his website and email address. He denied all of the charges, maintaining that he was not carrying on business, that he had no control over the Yell.com advert, that he was entitled to continue to use the acronym RIBA as he was still a member, and that while he had instructed his website’s hosting company to remove the website, that company had failed to do so.
In convicting on all five charges, the judge found that Mr Plumridge had quite clearly been carrying on a business, and so the use of the word architect in his website and email address was illegal, as was his use of the acronym RIBA. His advertising in Yell as an architect was a deliberate act and not a mistake on the part of the directory, and his explanation in relation to the website hosting company lacked any credibility. Overall, it was a deliberate attempt by Mr Plumridge to circumvent legislation with which he did not agree.
After taking into account Mr Plumridge’s restricted means, the Court imposed a fine of £1,500 with a further £2,530 in costs and surcharges.
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:
• Maintain the Register of Architects (Section 3)
• Prescribe qualifications for entry to the Register of Architects (Section 4)
• Deal with competence to practise (Section 9)
• Issue a Code which lays down standards of professional conduct and practice (Section 13)
• Regulate use of the title “architect” and prosecute those who use it 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org