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 27 September 2019 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued architect Mr Olaf Kneer, of Casper Mueller Kneer Architects, Barbican, London with a reprimand after he admitted unacceptable professional conduct.
Mr Kneer was retained to assist his client with the development of a small flat. He proposed removing and replacing the kitchen and bathroom, installing new cupboards, laying new floors and decorating the property. The client contacted ARB following a prolonged period of time when the works remained incomplete.
Following an investigation, Mr Kneer accepted he had not entered into a written agreement with his client that adequately covered the terms of engagement, contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code, at the outset or throughout the project. Whilst Mr Kneer’s role in the project evolved over time, he did not record or agree these changes in writing with the client. Mr Kneer accepted he failed to meet these professional obligations, leading to the client misunderstanding his role in the project.
Mr Kneer 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.
The PCC found the failings to be a serious breach of the Architects Code which had the potential to diminish both the architect’s reputation and that of the profession generally. It took note of Mr Kneer’s admission and the fact that he had engaged fully in the regulatory process. It therefore considered a reprimand to be the appropriate and proportionate sanction.
A copy of the Consent Order 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.
• 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, Communications Lead on 020 7580 5861 or by email at KateH@arb.org.uk.