At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee on 15 October 2013, Mr Michael Balla-Goddard of Hampstead, North West London was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and erased from the Register of Architects.
The Committee heard that in September 2001, Mr Balla-Goddard was instructed in relation to the conversion and modernisation of an existing nursing home, to accommodate a Doctors Surgery, in Llanfairfechan, Wales. Mr Balla-Goddard was instructed to design the conversion, obtain planning permission and design and oversee the conversion and construction. Mr Balla-Goddard initially estimated that the project would cost £422,480, but by its conclusion it had cost approximately £1.2m.
Problems arose as delays and regular cost increases used up the client’s original budget, with no substantial development on site. The initial ‘move in date’ of June 2004 was put back on numerous occasions due to the procurement process that Mr Balla-Goddard was managing. Tenders had been divided into numerous small contracts which created substantial extra works which were only brought to the client’s attention as each new piece of work came to light. The client took occupation in October 2004, but in or around June 2005 the local planners advised that as the client had moved in before a planning condition had been complied with, the planning consent was void and the building was being occupied illegally. This resulted in further costs and works in resolving the matter arising, it was alleged, from Mr Balla-Goddard’s failure to manage the project properly.
Mr Balla-Goddard faced allegations that he failed to adequately, or at all, set out his terms of engagement in writing; that he failed to carry out his work with due skill, care and diligence; that he failed to carry out his work without undue delay; that he failed to keep his client informed of material information in respect of the quality and costs of the works; that he failed to deal with complaints concerning his work promptly and appropriately; that he made unjustified claims for costs and VAT; and that he failed to provide evidence of adequate professional indemnity insurance.
Mr Balla-Goddard was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct in respect of all allegations after failing to appear at the initial hearing. The Committee gave him a further opportunity to attend and speak in mitigation, but he also failed to attend on this occasion.
The Committee took note of Mr Balla-Goddard’s persistent lack of insight into the seriousness of his failings and so had no confidence that such conduct would not reoccur. These aggravating factors meant Mr Balla-Goddard’s failings were fundamentally incompatible with continuing to be an architect and so his name was erased from the Register to protect both the public and maintain the reputation of the profession.
A copy of the Committee’s full 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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