On 8 August 2019 Mr Paul Lyon and his company Lyson Architecture Ltd, of Warwickshire, Coventry and London, were each convicted of four charges of the criminal offence of misusing the title ‘architect’. The charges related to claims made on the Lyson Architecture website and social media.
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Lyon referred to himself as a “Residential Architect” on the Lyson Architecture website, and used the social media handle “@LysonArchitect” despite having no architects at the practice. The company continued to do so despite numerous warnings from ARB, the regulator of UK architects.
The District Judge noted that Mr Lyon did not actively go out and commission the use of the title ‘architect’ but was “slow and ineffective” in removing the problematic content. When deciding upon sentencing, the District Judge took into account the defendants’ timely guilty plea, but also that the public is “entitled to be clear about [the] professional services [they are] engaging” and that architects are “entitled not to be in competition or undercut by those who are not architects”.
In light of mitigations, the District Judge imposed fines equating to £2,080 and a further £2,142 in costs and surcharges, creating a total of £4,222 to be paid within 28 days. It is hoped that the criminal convictions, fines and the negative publicity associated with cases such as this will act as a deterrent for others who may use the title illegally.
In regulating misuse of the title ‘architect’ the objective of ARB is to limit the harm as swiftly and effectively as possible. Mr Lyon and Lyson Architecture have 28 days to make the necessary changes, however ARB will continue to monitor their trading style and take further appropriate action as necessary.
Notes for Editors
o 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.
o 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 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
o The maximum fine for each offence, currently £2,500, is set by the Architects Act 1997. Magistrates determine the amount of the fine and related costs after considering the nature of the offence and any mitigation put forward by the defendant. Money raised from fines is paid to HM Treasury, not to ARB.
o ARB’s Misuse of Title Policy can be found on our website here.
For further information, please contact Kate Howlett, Communications Lead, on 020 7580 5861 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org