On 30 January 2019 Stuart Duffy of KDP Architects, Liverpool, was erased from the Register of Architects by ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) , after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
The PCC heard that Mr Duffy had on separate occasions signed off properties as being practically complete when he knew that the construction work had not been completed. The first occasion was in relation to a block of apartments in Liverpool in 2013; the second in relation to a Newcastle-under-Lyme residential development in 2017. An expert architect appointed by ARB reported that all properties remained unfit for occupation and far from complete, noting the lack of any fire protection, missing doors, exposed steelwork and an absence of electrical or plumbing installation.
Complaints had been made by a number of investors who said that as a result of the certification, funds had been released in relation to construction that had never been carried out. It was also alleged at the PCC that Mr Duffy had failed to deal with those complaints appropriately.
Mr Duffy denied that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. He accepted under cross-examination that the properties had not reached the stage of practical completion and he had acted dishonestly in certifying that they had. He claimed, however, that the Liverpool properties had been certified only as a result of undue pressure from the developer; and that the Newcastle-under-Lyme development had only been certified to maintain liquidity in the project and prevent the investors from losing their money.
The PCC found that Mr Duffy had acted dishonestly, and was therefore guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. While it accepted his explanation in respect of dealing with the complaints he had received, in knowingly signing off properties as complete when he knew they were not, Mr Duffy had fallen substantially short of the conduct expected of an architect. That he had repeated the dishonest act in 2017 only aggravated the seriousness of the failing. He had chosen to appease others over his professional obligations.
In considering sanction, the PCC took into account Mr Duffy’s previous unblemished record and co-operation with the investigation as a mitigating factor, but this was weighed against his limited insight, the serious impact his actions had caused others, and the repetition of his dishonest statements over a significant period of time. As a result, Mr Duffy was erased from the Register of Architects.
A copy of the PCC’s decision 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.
Under the Architects Act, only those who are entered onto the Register of Architects are permitted to the use the title ‘architect’ in business or practice. A breach of the Architects Act is a criminal offence.
Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
- Maintain the Architects Register
- Prescribe the qualifications needed to become an architect
- 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
ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one independent, 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 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.
More information about the PCC can be found on our website here.
For further information, please contact Kate Howlett, Communications Lead on 020 7580 5861 or by email at KateH@arb.org.uk.