At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee on 30 October to 1 November 2018 in Edinburgh, Mr Neil Rothnie of Neil Rothnie Architects in Aberdeen was erased from the Register of Architects following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC) and serious professional incompetence (SPI).
The PCC heard that Mr Rothnie had been instructed by a developer to design two new build properties in Aberdeen. The complainant was not a direct client of the architect, but a purchaser of one of those properties, who had reported serious leaking from its gable wall.
It was alleged that Mr Rothnie provided a seriously incompetent design in relation the gable wall, and that he failed to respond adequately to communications regarding this issue when approached by the complainant. Mr Rothnie denied the allegations.
The PCC considered expert evidence in relation to the design. It found that Mr Rothnie had given a number of different, inconsistent explanations regarding the design of the gable wall. Those explanations lacked credibility. The Committee found that the defects in the property did result from the architect’s design and that this failing was serious as it undermined the integrity of the property. It was serious professional incompetence.
The PCC also found that a failure to deal sufficiently with the concerns raised by the complainant, in circumstances where she had to endure difficult living conditions, amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
In considering sanction the PCC took into account that Mr Rothnie had previously been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct for failing to deal appropriately with a complaint about his work. This aggravated his conduct in relation to this matter. It considered that he had demonstrated little insight into the failure of his design and had not taken steps to address his previous failings. It lacked confidence that these failings would not be repeated, and so erasure from the Register of Architects was required as an essential safeguard to public protection and the reputation of the profession.
A copy of the Committee’s decision can be found here.
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, Head of Professional Standards, at email@example.com