Preventing the misuse of ‘architect’
The title ‘architect’ is protected by law in the UK and its misuse is a criminal offence.
Only those on the Architects Register can legally use the title ‘architect’ in a professional context. It typically takes around seven years to obtain the qualifications and experience needed to join the Register and practise as an architect in the UK.
As the regulator of UK architects, we protect the title so that you can make an informed choice about who you hire, and be confident that genuine architects are qualified, hold appropriate insurance and adhere to the high professional standards set out in our Architects Code.
When the title ‘architect’ is used to mislead people, we can and do take action. However we also use a range of measures to prevent title misuse occurring in the first place.
We engage with a wide variety of stakeholders to help them educate key audiences about the protected title ‘architect’, by raising awareness of the Architects Register and help ensure information shared about the regulation of architects is accurate.
We encourage architects to help raise awareness of the Register among their clients. This includes asking architects to display the ARB logo and link to their Register entry, to demonstrate they are a regulated professional and help people spot those who aren’t. You may see the ARB logo on architect websites, emails, social media or printed materials. This is you cue to check their entry on the Architects Register and confirm their registered status. In March 2020, we launched a new area of our website dedicated to helping architects raise awareness of their registered status.
We work with professional bodies to help others in the built environment understand architect regulation and to raise public awareness of the Register, as well as to swiftly resolve any title use queries that may concern their members before such issues develop into more serious misuse.
We also collaborate with consumer protection bodies and other relevant organisations so they are aware of our role in protecting the public and can provide up to date and useful information to those who engage with their services.
We engage with the media to encourage the correct use of title ‘architect’ when describing individuals in articles and prevent readers being misinformed about their professional status. Where appropriate we also request press corrections to ensure inaccurate information is put right. In 2019, we requested over 20 press corrections.
We liaise with education providers and speak to students about appropriate use of the title and what the architect regulation might mean for them. In 2019 we facilitated 62 sessions, engaging with approximately 2,900 students.
Online Directories and business listings are often used by the public to get information about architects. However they are also a common feature of our title misuse cases, and were involved in around 60% of our prosecutions in 2019. We therefore work proactively with directories to try and tackle any issues with their platforms early on. We provide models of best practice and suggest measures to help ensure their listings are accurate.
In addition to the preventative activities above, we also list prosecutions for misuse of title on our website, issue press releases about convictions and publish title misuse case studies such as this one. It’s our hope that this information will help protect the public and deter to those who might otherwise have used the title illegally.