At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee in London on 24 March 2014, Mr Mark Heyes of Preston, Lancashire, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and suspended from the Register of Architects for two years.
Mr Heyes was instructed in 2008 to act as architect and project manager in relation to plans to extend and develop a domestic property. As the project progressed the client and architect became friends. The Committee heard that towards the end of the project the client went on holiday and entrusted Mr Heyes with £10,000 to pay the contractors in his absence. On his return it became apparent that the money had in fact been paid into Mr Heyes’s office account, rather than a client account, and that the contractors had not been paid for their work. The funds had in fact been used Mr Heyes to make a number of payments in respect of his own practice. The money was not reimbursed in full until over a year later.
The Committee further heard that Mr Heyes had failed to adequately set out the terms of engagement in writing; failed to enter into a written contract with the contractor, to issue architect’s instructions, to properly certify the value of the works, to formally document changes, or administer the contract properly; that he had failed to notify the ARB of his bankruptcy within 28 days; and failed to notify the ARB of a Judgment Debt that had been obtained against him from one of his employees.
In admitting all the allegations, Mr Heyes submitted a statement of mitigation and accepted that he had not acted in a correct manner or in line with his own personal and professional standards.
Before the Committee decided on sanction it was also told that Mr Heyes had previously appeared before the PCC in 2007 and issued with a reprimand for similarly failing to safeguard clients’ money and for failing to notify the ARB of his bankruptcy, but that he had evidently not taken appropriate steps to ensure the same thing would not happen again.
In deciding on what sanction to impose, the Committee considered Mr Heyes’ failure to put in place practical steps to prevent a further repetition, and the fact that the judgment debt has remained unpaid after nearly 3 years. The case demonstrated serious failings, and that inappropriately using client funds for purposes other than which they were intended is a serious matter. It was however persuaded by the fact he had repaid his client in its entirety before the complaint had been made to the ARB, and decided that the appropriate penalty would be to suspend Mr Heyes from the Register for a period of two years.
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.
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