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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 26 March 2020, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued Mr Peter Fancote of Hargreaves Architects Ltd, Kent with a penalty order of £1000 following an admission of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).

Mr Fancote had been instructed to prepare drawings and assist with the planning application for the demolition of a garage, and the construction of a two storey house in its place. Mr Fancote’s client raised concerns with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) after he failed to deal with a complaint about his service in a comprehensive and timely manner. The client believed the project was exempt from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and was assured by Mr Fancote that he would deal with the paperwork. However, after applying for a postal address for the new property, the client discovered that a payment of almost £5,000 was due for the CIL as the paperwork had not been completed. Mr Fancote did not communicate with his client for a lengthy period of time despite several attempts to contact him.

The PCC also alleged he failed to provide adequate terms of engagement or carry out the works in accordance with those terms, given that Mr Fancote’s role evolved as the project progressed, yet no updated terms were issued. During the course of the investigation, ARB wrote to Mr Fancote providing him the opportunity to contact his client directly to deal with the matters; however he failed to do so.

Mr Fancote admitted to all the allegations and agreed that his failings amounted to UPC. He waived his right to have the case heard at a public hearing and agreed that the decision could be made by the PCC on the basis of the papers alone.

In considering the case, the PCC noted Mr Fancote’s admissions and insight into his failings. Nevertheless, it maintained that the admitted allegations diminished the reputation of the profession and deemed Mr Fancote’s conduct sufficiently serious to require a penalty order of £1,000.

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.

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

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