At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) in on 9 June 2016, Mr Michael Dolan of Thame, Oxfordshire was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
The PCC heard that a client had become dissatisfied with some aspects of a project where Mr Dolan was the architect. The client instructed a solicitor, who wrote to Mr Dolan asking him to notify his insurers. Mr Dolan responded to say he had informed his insurers, who had asked him for details regarding the project, and that he had supplied emails to them. He further stated that on receipt of the information, the insurer had informed him that he should have notified them earlier and so his cover was void in respect of the claim. It later transpired that Mr Dolan did not have an insurance policy in place; nor had he ever written to any insurer in connection with the claim. When pressed for copies of correspondence Mr Dolan later the same day then admitted to the client’s solicitor that his insurance had lapsed prior to the commencement of the project (and it transpired that he had been uninsured for some years).
Mr Dolan was charged with the allegation that from 2012 and 2015 he failed to have adequate and appropriate professional indemnity insurance in respect of his practice. He was also charged with the allegation that he was dishonest in his representations as to his insurance.
Mr Dolan attended the hearing and admitted that he had no insurance in place. He accepted that the assertions made in his email correspondence were dishonest, but said that the fact he did not have insurance was an oversight, that he had always held insurance in the past, and that when the client’s solicitor contacted him he had panicked.
The PCC found by his own admission that Mr Dolan had acted dishonestly. It did not however, consider that this was a momentary lapse, but a premeditated misrepresentation of the true facts. It considered the submissions and correspondence provided by Mr Dolan to the ARB demonstrated limited insight into the allegation of dishonesty and that there had been an impact on the client who was deprived of the possibility of a claim of negligence. The Committee noted however, that there was no financial advantage to Mr Dolan in the untruth he told in the email, which he had written to avoid embarrassment. The PCC considered there was no prospect of the incident being repeated but that to maintain, declare and uphold professional standards, the maximum suspension of two years was the appropriate penalty.
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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