At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 5 and 6 April 2018 Mr Nicholas Baldry of Peter Jackson Architects, Kent, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and suspended from the Register of Architects for six months.
The PCC heard that Mr Baldry had been appointed as Contract Administrator in relation to an extension of his client’s property. Following the selection of a builder by the client, excavation work unearthed a pipe crossing the footprint of the extension, of which there was no prior knowledge. It was alleged that Mr Baldry failed to communicate adequately with his client in that he allegedly failed to respond to both an email sent by the client informing him that the building site had been shut down by her HM Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and a further 23 emails between November 2015 and March 2016, requesting that he contact the client. It was also alleged that Mr Baldry terminated the contract without informing his client.
Mr Baldry attended the hearing but was not legally represented. He denied all of the allegations.
The PCC found it proven that Mr Baldry had failed to communicate adequately with his client. The Committee did not accept Mr Baldry’s version of events as being plausible in that he had asserted that he had been advised by his insurance broker not to have any contact with his client, including informing his client that that was the advice he had been given. In the absence of any evidence that Mr Baldry’s emails were bouncing back, the Committee considered it unlikely that he would have received 21 of the emails sent by the client, but not three specific ones. It found that there was no evidence before it to suggest that Mr Baldry had given adequate advice to the client as to how to proceed in light of the HSE’s decision.
The Committee also found it proven that Mr Baldry had terminated the contract without informing his client. The Committee considered that by wholly withdrawing from undertaking any further work on the project, including checking whether the problems had been resolved, the practical effect of Mr Baldry’s actions was to terminate the project.
In the view of the PCC, the failings demonstrated a course of conduct which fell substantially below the standard expected of a registered architect, and amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
In considering sanction, the PCC noted that this was an isolated incident and that Mr Baldry had engaged in the regulatory process. However it considered that this was a serious failing that resulted in material inconvenience to the client over an extended period of time, in having to manage the project without the input of his architect. Furthermore it considered that his conduct diminished both his reputation and that of the profession generally.
In those circumstances, the Committee imposed a six month suspension order from the Register of Architects.
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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