At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee in London on 25-27 July 2016, Mr Julian Castle of HUB Professional Services Ltd, Newbury, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
Mr Castle had been instructed by his client, who lived abroad, in respect of the design and extension to a property. Builders were appointed to undertake construction work, which Mr Castle was expected to supervise. Serious problems emerged with the steelworks which subsequently required remedial work to be undertaken.
It was alleged that Mr Castle failed to issue his client with adequate terms of engagement; that he failed to adequately keep his client informed on the progress of the work, and that he failed to act with reasonable skill and care when instructing the contractor.
Mr Castle admitted that he had failed to provide adequate terms, relying only on a letter setting out his fee which failed to satisfy all of the terms expected under the Code of Conduct. He further admitted that he failed to keep his client updated on the progress of the work, despite agreeing additional fees for doing so regularly.
The PCC found both of these allegations proven by virtue of Mr Castle’s admissions, and decided that they were sufficiently serious failings to amount to unacceptable professional conduct. Adequate terms of engagement are essential to establish understanding between an architect and client, and the client was specifically relying on the architect for updates on the work as he was physically unable to monitor the project himself.
The PCC did not, however, find that Mr Castle had failed to act without reasonable skill and care in failing to instruct the contractor to carry out relevant works.
In considering sanction, the Committee noted that Mr Castle’s failings had led to substantial inconvenience to his client and that he had shown only limited recognition into those failings. It did however take into account that this was an isolated incident in a career of some 30 years, and that he had taken steps to remediate his failings.
In the circumstances it decided that the appropriate sanction was a penalty order of £1,250.
A full 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 (to a maximum of £2,500 for each offence)
· 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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