On 24 April 2018 the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) erased Mr David Draper of Draper Architects Limited, Kent, from the Register of Architects, after finding him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
The ARB received three unconnected complaints relating to Mr Draper.
In relation to the first complaint, Mr Draper was appointed to revise drawings for a side and rear extension of the client’s property. Mr Draper’s indicated that the drawings would be completed in three weeks however they were allegedly not provided until three months later.
A second client had instructed Mr Draper to produce a full set of planning drawings, with construction drawings to follow. It was alleged that Mr Draper cancelled meetings and failed to keep in contact with the client. Furthermore, that despite him saying that he had submitted drawings to the council, he had not in fact done so.
Mr Draper had been instructed to act as Contract Administrator and design and manage the refurbishment of the third client’s property. Following problems with the building works, the client notified Mr Draper of a potential negligence claim against his practice and requested details of his professional indemnity insurance, which, it was alleged, Mr Draper did not provide because he did not have. Similarly, the PCC heard that the information was not provided to solicitors instructed by the architect’s client, or to the ARB upon its repeated requests.
It was also alleged that Mr Draper failed to cooperate with the ARB in relation to complaints made by all three clients regarding his professional work.
Mr Draper did not attend the hearing and was unrepresented in his absence.
The PCC found all of the allegations proved and decided that they amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
In considering sanction, the PCC noted that Mr Draper’s failings were serious, repeated and persistent, and resulted in material inconvenience to his clients. It also noted that his dishonesty was particularly serious given that he had stated that he had lodged a planning application when he had not. Further to this, Mr Draper failed to demonstrate any insight into his failings and did not make any expression of regret or apology. The Committee concluded that there remained a high risk of the failings being repeated.
In those circumstances the Committee decided that the reputation of the profession and the protection of the public required that Mr Draper be erased from the Register of Architects.
At a separate hearing on 30 April 2018 the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) reprimanded Ms Roxanne Walters of London, after finding her guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.
The PCC heard that Ms Walters was admitted on to the Register in February 2012. In February 2016, evidence was obtained from a website on which it was alleged that Ms Walters sought to raise £4,000 in order to obtain legal advice about completing her architectural training. Ms Walters made reference to completing Parts 1 and 2 of her architectural training; however failed to make reference to the fact she had already completed her final Part 3. A further crowd-funding website stated that Ms Walters “is still shut out from obtaining her full professional qualification after all this time”. It was therefore alleged that Ms Walters’ representations were inaccurate, misleading and untrue and that she was acting dishonestly by implying that she required funding to complete her education as an architect, despite having completed all of her architectural examinations and being registered as an architect. The ARB sent several letters and emails to Ms Walters seeking clarification regarding her registered status and crowdfunding pages. Ms Walters failed to respond to any of the correspondence until the matter had been referred to the PCC and this in itself, it was alleged, was unprofessional.
Ms Walters attended the hearing and was legally represented. She accepted that she did not respond to the ARB’s correspondence but denied that any of the allegations amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
It was Ms Walters’ position that the web page was not posted by her and she was not responsible for the representations contained on it. Further to this, she stated that she had been told by the Architectural Association, her professional qualification awarding body, that whilst she had not met the practical experience requirements of Part 3, she was being passed on the condition that she acquired this experience post-qualification. It was therefore her belief that her passing of her Part 3 exams was conditional on securing further practical experience.
The PCC found all of the allegations proven on the facts, but, having relied on what she was told by the Architectural Association, considered that her conduct in respect of the first two allegations did not amount to dishonesty. Taking into account the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the test for dishonesty, the PCC concluded that Ms Walters held a genuine belief that the university had passed her on a conditional basis and therefore, her actions would not objectively be considered to be dishonest. In the absence of dishonesty, the PCC concluded that her actions in respect of the websites, did not amount to unacceptable professional conduct.
The PCC did however conclude that Ms Walters’ refusal to respond to ARB’s enquiries was deliberate and wholly unjustified, and there had been no remorse or demonstration of insight into her failing. Her lack of compliance undermined ARB’s ability to undertake its regulatory role and amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
In the circumstances, the PCC decided the appropriate and proportionate sanction was a reprimand.
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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