At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee on 27 September to 2 October 2018 in London, Mr Stephen Yakeley of Islington, London, was erased from the Register of Architects following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).
The PCC heard that Mr Yakeley had been instructed to undertake architectural services to assist with the renovation of a one bedroom flat.
It was alleged that Mr Yakeley failed to keep his clients adequately informed of matters affecting costs, failed to act appropriately following the termination of his engagement by making excessive demands for payments for work, and failed to pay fees owed following the decision of an Adjudicator. Mr Yakeley attended the hearing and was legally represented; he denied all of the allegations expect that in relation to the adjudication, the facts of which were admitted but it was denied that this was misconduct.
The Committee heard that Mr Yakeley’s client had suggested a budget in the region of £100,000 for a refurbishment of his London flat. When the design was subsequently costed at between £343,000 and £500,000 the client decided he did not want to proceed with the work, and asked to be billed for the design work undertaken. He was issued with an invoice for £74,000, and when that figure was disputed, Mr Yakeley invoiced him for a further £45,000 for dealing with the complaint about the level of fees. This was subsequently followed by another invoice of £28,000 for dealing with his client’s solicitor. He then made an offer to settle for £182,000 asserting that the client had defamed him to a contractor by saying that he was not concerned with costs. The client offered £25,000. The dispute was then subject to adjudication, and an award was made to the architect of just over £30,000. Mr Yakeley accused the adjudicator of bad faith bias and deliberate falsehood, and refused to pay the adjudication fee.
The PCC found all of the allegations proved and decided that they amounted to UPC. Mr Yakeley gave no information to his client about cost before submitting the projections at figures vastly over what the client has asked for, and ought to have given his client information about the cost of what he was designing. He had also deliberately inflated invoices in an attempt to bully his client and as a source of income, and had acted inappropriately in respect of the adjudication.
In considering sanction the PCC considered all the evidence before it. To bill a client £147,000 when that client had asked for help to refurbish a flat at an indicative (total) cost of £100,000, and to bill a percentage of proposed costs figures of which the client had no idea, was truly appalling.
It took into account Mr Yakeley’s attitude towards his client, whom he continued to blame, and that he demonstrated no insight or remorse for his actions; he had blamed others throughout. His behaviour was fundamentally incompatible with him continuing to be an architect, and so he was erased from the Register of Architects.
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.
Any queries relating to this matter should be directed to Simon Howard, Head of Professional Standards, at firstname.lastname@example.org