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At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board on 8 September 2014 in London, Mr David Edward King of Cuckfield, West Sussex was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and issued with a penalty order of £1000. Mr King did not attend the hearing but had made written representations through the course of the investigation.

Mr King entered into a JCT contract with a contractor in respect of works to be carried out on his own property, in which he was also to act as architect and contract administrator.  As the project progressed the scope of the work increased and an informal Extension Of Time was given to the contractor.  A later formal request for an Extension Of Time was however refused.

It was agreed that the architect’s furniture could be stored in the property in order to avoid storage fees on the agreed condition that he would issue a Certificate of Practical Completion.  Instead, and despite of having moved the furniture in, the architect issued a certificate of non-completion and later, it was alleged, sought to unfairly terminate the contract.

The allegations brought were firstly, that the architect failed to act impartially in administering the contract in his role as client, architect and contract administrator; and secondly, that he dishonestly altered his copy of the JCT contract by marking up the arbitration clause after signature, and without the contractor’s knowledge.  It was said that the alterations to the contract were in an effort to halt already issued court proceedings in respect of unpaid fees in order to have the matter considered by arbitration instead. Mr King denied the allegations.

The Committee found the first allegation proved and noted that a potential conflict of interest was likely in the given circumstances.  It considered that the architect failed to act impartially in respect of seeking independent advice and in the issuing of the certificate of non-completion, and that these failings amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. The Committee did not however find the second allegation proved on the balance of probabilities, finding that the marking up of the contract was likely to be no more than an informal annotation.  The Committee could not be satisfied, based on the evidence before it, that the contract had been altered after the complainant’s signature.

In considering sanction the Committee noted the seriousness of the matter, stating “Acting impartially is a fundamental requirement of an architect and a failure to do so diminishes both his reputation, and that of the profession generally”.  It all the circumstances, it considered that a £1,000 penalty order to be the appropriate sanction.

A copy of the Committee’s decision can be found here.

—ENDS—

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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)

 

The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The Committee determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence. Where a guilty finding is made, the Committee 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.

Any queries relating to this matter should be directed to Simon Howard at professionalstandards@arb.org.uk

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