Serious concerns about architects are rare. On the limited occasions they do occur, as the UK regulator we are here to ensure standards, and therefore trust, in the profession is maintained. We hope the information published about conduct and competence decisions provides useful learning points for others.
On 6 March 2020, ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) suspended Mr Matthew Deering of Matthew Deering Architects, Bristol, following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).
Mr Deering had been instructed to assist in the design of a dental practice. Mr Deering’s client raised concerns with ARB after he had failed to deal with her complaint about his service in a full and timely manner.
During the course of its investigation ARB sought evidence of Mr Deering’s professional indemnity insurance. It then came to light that Mr Deering had been unable to secure insurance following the expiry of a previous policy but had continued to undertake architectural work since that time. For this reason Mr Deering faced allegations from both his former client and from the ARB Registrar.
Mr Deering admitted that he had not provided his client with terms of engagement, had not produced adequate drawings and designs, and had failed to deal with his client’s complaint appropriately. He also admitted failing to have adequate and appropriate insurance in place in accordance with Standard 8 of the Architects Code. He also admitted that these failings were serious and amounted to UPC.
Mr Deering waived his right to have the case heard at a public hearing, and agreed that the decision could be made by the PCC on the basis of the papers alone.
In considering the case the PCC noted Mr Deering’s admissions along with his engagement in the regulatory process. It balanced this alongside the seriousness of the allegations and agreed that a disciplinary order was required. It considered that neither a reprimand nor a penalty order would be sufficient to address the public interest and so determined a period of suspension to be the appropriate and proportionate sanction. It did not consider Mr Deering’s conduct so serious that it required permanent erasure from the Architects Register.
The PCC imposed a period of suspension for 12 months. While suspended from the Register Mr Deering is not permitted to use the title ‘architect’ in business or practice.
A copy of the Consent Order can be found here.
Notes for Editors
• The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.
Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the UK qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects
• ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
• The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The PCC determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence.
Where a guilty finding is made, the PCC 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.
• Where an architect admits unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence and the proposed disciplinary sanction, the PCC can impose that penalty by consent, and without the need for a hearing.
For further information, please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) on 020 7580 5861 or by email at KateH@arb.org.uk.