Mr Desmond O’Hara
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
DESMOND MICHAEL JAMES O’HARA (057407D)
20-22 February 2023
By Video Conference
Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
Deborah Kirk (PCC Architect Member)
Jules Griffiths (PCC Lay Member)
The Architects Registration Board (“the ARB”) was represented by Ms Kathryn Sheridan of Kingsley Napley LLP (“the Case Presenter”).
Mr Desmond O’Hara (“the Registered Person”) did not attend the Hearing and was not legally represented.
The Professional Conduct Committee (“the Committee”) finds the Registered Person guilty of Unacceptable Professional Conduct (“UPC”). It did so having found the particulars of the Charge proved in that:
1) In respect of a signed agreement (the “Agreement”) the Registered Person:
a) Amended the Agreement without the knowledge or consent of his client;
b) Initialled the Agreement with the client’s initials without the knowledge or consent of his client;
2) The Registered Person:
a) did not provide his client with adequate advice in relation to planning or
b) provided planning advice to his client that he knew to be inappropriate.
3) The Registered Person did not deal with a complaint appropriately, contrary to Standard 10 of the Architects Code;
4) The Registered Person did not co-operate fully with his regulatory requirements contrary to Standard 11 of the Architects Code;
5) The Registered Person did not provide evidence of adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance cover to the ARB when requested to do so contrary to Standard 8 of the Architects Code;
6) The Registered Person’s actions at particular 1(a) and 1(b):
a) Lacked integrity and
b) Were dishonest.
7) The Registered Person’s actions at particular 2 (b) lacked integrity.
and that by doing so, he acted in breach of Standards 1, 6 and 10 of the 2010 Code and Standards 8 and 11 of the 2017 Code (“the Code”).
The sanction imposed is an Erasure order.
- As a preliminary issue, the Committee considered whether to adjourn matters or proceed in the absence of the Registered Person. The Committee took into account the proceeding in absence bundle submitted by ARB. In making that decision the Committee took account of the representations made by the Case Presenter which in summary stated that the rules on service had been complied with and there was no compelling reason to adjourn proceedings and there was a public interest in matters proceeding. The Case Presenter referred to the relevant case law and set out the factors to which the Committee should have regard. She submitted that there was no suggestion that the Registered Person would attend any adjourned hearing and an adjournment would serve no useful purpose. She further submitted that the Registered Person had not engaged in this process at all, and the Committee could conclude he had voluntarily waived his right to attend. She submitted that witnesses had been warned to attend and these were serious charges which should be determined to protect the public.
- The Committee accepted the advice of the Chair and had regard to the relevant factors as outlined in the case of R v Hayward, Jones & Purvis in the Court of Appeal  EWCA Crim 168 and approved in the House of Lords and also the case of GMC v Adeogba and Visvardis  EWCA Civ 162.
- The Committee noted that the relevant Notice of Hearing and supporting documentation was served on the Registered Person at his registered email address on 27 December 2022. In addition, the bundle was posted to his registered business address on the 22 December 2022. The Committee had regard to Rule 7 and 9 of the Professional Conduct Committee Rules 2022 (The Rules) and Part 3 and Part 4 S24 of the Architect’s Act 1997. The Committee was satisfied that the Registered Person has been properly served with the required notice of this hearing both via email and post. The Committee noted that the postal notice was sent over 49 days before the hearing as required but had been returned. The Committee considered that the Architects Act and the Rules did not require receipt of the Notice and it was incumbent upon the Registered Person to ensure that his registered address was up to date. The Committee noted that the Registered Person had updated his address on a previous occasion, so it was reasonable to conclude he was aware of his obligations. Further, the Committee considered that where the Registered Person had provided an email address for entry in the Register, service of the Notice of Hearing via such an email address was also valid service. The Committee noted that the email had not been returned as undelivered. In the circumstances the Committee was satisfied that the Registered Person had been given an adequate opportunity to appear before the Committee.
- The Committee then went on to consider whether to proceed in the absence of the Registered Person pursuant to Rule 18 of the Rules. The Committee took into account all of the circumstances put forward by the Case Presenter on behalf of ARB. In particular, the Committee also considered whether there was any reason why the hearing would be unfair if it proceeded.
- The Committee has considered the overall fairness of the proceedings. The Committee was satisfied that the Registered Person has been given an adequate opportunity to appear before the Committee to argue his case and that he had chosen not to do so. He was made aware of the hearing and the Committee noted the extensive attempts the Investigations team and the Hearings Officer had made to email and telephone the Registered Person to encourage him to engage. The Committee concluded that he had chosen to voluntarily absent himself and there was no realistic prospect that the Registered Person would attend any adjourned hearing. The Committee could identify no good reason to adjourn. There were two witnesses ready to give evidence and any delay or adjournment would be inconvenient and possibly have an effect on their recollection of events. The allegations against the Registered Person are serious and the Committee determined it is in the public interest that they are dealt with expeditiously.
- The Registered Person has not requested an adjournment and there is no reason to suppose he will engage at any future hearing. Although there may be some disadvantage to the Registered Person if he is unable to present his case in person, he has been made aware and nevertheless chosen not to attend. The Committee noted that the only engagement with the Registered Person was via a webchat. The Registered Person had indicated he was in poor health and was requesting financial assistance. During the webchat he was advised of the current proceedings and declined to provide an alternative working email address. The Committee has no evidence about the Registered Person’s current health or whether this prevented him from engaging. In balancing the interests of the Registered Person against the public interest in the expeditious disposal of matters it considered that it was fair and proportionate to proceed in the absence of the Registered Person.
- The Registered Person is a registered Architect and Director of his own company, Englishaus Architects Limited.
- The Referrer located the Architect through an internet search in June 2014 and consulted with him to provide advice on extending and renovating a property he was in the process of purchasing. In September 2014 the Referrer formally engaged the services of the Registered Person to assist with the extension and renovation. The Referrer completed his purchase of the property in November 2014.
- The Referrer wanted to construct a two-storey extension at the rear of the property. The Referrer wanted an 8-metre ground floor extension and a 3 metre first floor extension. As the Referrer was often travelling outside the UK on business he also required the Registered Person to project manage the works. The Referrer discussed his proposals with the Registered Person in July 2014. Following this meeting a formal engagement letter was sent by the Registered Person to the Referrer dated 21 July 2014.
- In September 2014 the Referrer returned the signed Agreement to the Registered Person via post and initial design work began. The Referrer stated that the Registered Person advised him that the best way to achieve his aims for the rear extension would be to submit two separate planning applications. The Registered Person suggested that the first application should be for a rear single storey extension of 8 metres under permitted development rules. Immediately after the first application was approved a further application for two storey rear extension and side entrance should be submitted and then the applications could be “combined”. In an email dated 24 July 2014 the Registered Person stated, “…in practice this is very difficult for the Planning Enforcement to control, if we submit the second application soon after the first is approved.”
- The Referrer says he was concerned about this approach and did some research. The Referrer stated that he raised concerns that the development was not feasible with the Registered Person under the planning rules. The Referrer stated that the Registered Person told him that the planning department would “never know” about the two applications. Despite his concerns and reservations, the Referrer agreed with the approach of submitting two planning applications as he says he trusted the expertise of the Registered Person. The first application was submitted in November 2014 and approved in December 2014.
- In February 2015 the Registered Person submitted the second application for the rear two storey extension and side entrance. Around this time the Referrer was becoming concerned about slow progress of the works and other matters that had arisen with the project. In March 2015 the Referrer asked an architect friend to review the plans and confirm that the approach of submitting two planning applications was legitimate. The Referrer received an email from his friend which set out that he would be able to build one of the extensions but not both and that it was not permissible to “combine” the applications. As a result of this advice the Referrer tasked the local planning officer to attend the site.
- On 26 March 2015 the Planning Officer sent an email to the Referrer to confirm that he would only be able to build one of the submitted applications. She explained that it was not possible to “combine” the two applications and if the Referrer wanted to build both a new application would need to be submitted.
- The Referrer stated that he also discovered that the property was in the green belt and therefore he would only be able to develop the property within permitted development rules. The Referrer stated that this was never discussed with him. In the circumstances the Referrer withdrew the second planning application and complained to the Registered Person.
- During March and April 2015, the Referrer continued to raise concerns and complaints with the Registered Person. There was a dispute about fees and the Registered Person refused to release his drawings to the Referrer without further payment. The Referrer stated that at this point he revisited the written agreement and discovered that the Registered Person had returned the agreement with a number of amendments that were not contained within the initial terms sent to him. The Referrer stated that the agreement had his handwritten initials next to the amendments and he had not initialled the documents.
- The Referrer wrote a formal complaint to the Registered Person dated 25 March 2015. Within the complaint the Referrer requested a response to his complaints and a copy of the Registered Person’s complaints procedure as required by the Code. Further correspondence was sent by the Registered Person requesting fees but no response to the Complaint was issued. The Referrer instructed another individual to prepare replacement drawings and there was no further contact from the Registered Person. In January 2021 the Referrer received a letter from a debt collection agency instructed on behalf of the Registered Person seeking payment of unpaid fees in the amount of £15,896.29. The Referrer complained to ARB about the Registered Person following this correspondence.
- ARB opened an investigation into the Registered Person on 9 September 2021 and in a letter of that date sought the response of the Registered Person on the complaints raised. In addition, the Registered Person was asked to supply a copy of their Professional Indemnity insurance certificate. Numerous chaser letters were sent, and calls were attempted to request the co-operation of the Registered Person. The Registered Person did not respond. During a call with the Registered Person’s son ARB was advised that the Registered Person was in poor health and not in the UK. No information from the Registered Person has been received save for engagement via a webchat when requesting financial assistance.
Decision on Facts and UPC
- In reaching its decisions, the Committee has carefully considered the submissions of the Case Presenter, together with the documentary evidence presented to it in the Report of the Board’s Solicitor. The Committee heard live evidence from the Referrer and Mrs F.Marsh, the Handwriting expert.
- The Committee has accepted the legal advice given by the Legally Qualified Chair. It has had regard to the fact that the burden of proof in this case is on the ARB and that the civil standard applies, namely proof on the balance of probabilities. It has drawn no adverse inference from the non-attendance of the Registered Person. It has applied the relevant test in relation to dishonesty/ lack of integrity matters as outlined in the case of Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd  UK SC67 and Wingate and Evans v SRA and SRA v Malins  EWC8 Civ 366.
- Whether the conduct alleged amounts to UPC is a matter for the Committee’s independent judgment to which no burden or standard of proof applies.
- UPC is defined as conduct which falls short of the standard required of a Respondent. In reaching its findings on UPC, the Committee recognises that not every shortcoming on the part of an Architect, nor failure to comply with the provisions of the Code, will necessarily give rise to disciplinary proceedings or a finding of UPC. However, a failure to follow the guidance of the Code, whether in one’s professional or private life, is a factor that will be taken into account should it be necessary to examine the conduct or competence of an Architect. The Architect is expected to be guided by the spirit of the Code as well as its express terms and the fact that a course of conduct is not specifically referred to does not mean that there can be no finding in disciplinary proceedings even if there has been no clear breach of the express terms.
Particular 1 – Found Proved
In respect of a signed agreement (the “Agreement”) the Registered Person:
a) Amended the Agreement without the knowledge and/or consent of his client;
b) Initialled the Agreement with the client’s initials without the knowledge and/or consent of his client;
- The Committee accepted the evidence of the Referrer that he signed and returned the letter dated 21 July 2014 but he did not write his initials on the letter or the attached Conditions of Appointment document which constituted the Agreement. This was supported by the Referrer’s photographed copy of the letter that he returned to the Registered Person. The Committee noted that this letter was signed by him but did not include his initials. Further, the Committee accepted the evidence of the Referrer that the Conditions of Appointment document did not have any clauses struck through when it was provided to him. The handwriting expert concluded that in her professional opinion the handwritten initials did not belong to the Referrer. On the basis of this evidence the Committee was satisfied that the Referrer did not initial or amend the documents.
- The Committee noted that the documents were returned to the Referrer by the Registered Person under cover of an email dated 24 September 2014 which came from the Registered Person’s personal email. The Registered Person indicated that he was enclosing the contract documents “signed off” in a zip file. The email does not indicate that the documents have been altered or amended. The Committee noted the evidence of the Referrer who stated that he had no dealings with anyone other than the Registered Person throughout his project. The Committee also took into account the evidence of the handwriting expert who concluded that given the limited people with access to the document it was more likely than not that the Registered Person had made the handwritten initials.
- In the circumstances the Committee was satisfied that the Registered Person had initialled the Agreement on behalf of the client without his knowledge or consent and had made amendments to that agreement without informing the client that he had done so.
- Having found these particulars proved the Committee went on to consider whether this conduct was dishonest and/or lacked integrity. The Committee noted that the initials appeared to be inserted to confirm that the Referrer had been provided with the documents and that certain provisions had been drawn to his attention. Although the amendments did not appear to materially disadvantage the Referrer, nevertheless the Committee considered that the correct course would have been to ask the Referrer to initial the documents and draw to his attention the relevant provisions and the reasons for the request.
- The Committee considered that at the time of inserting the Referrer’s initials the Registered Person must have appreciated that what he was doing was dishonest. He was attempting to demonstrate that the Referrer had initialled these documents and therefore seen important provisions in the Agreement when the Registered Person was well aware that he had not. The Committee considered that the Registered Person was aware that he was altering and approving contractual provisions on behalf of the Referrer without his knowledge or consent and that he knew that this was dishonest and would be considered to be dishonest by ordinary decent people.
- In addition, having concluded that the Registered Person’s conduct was dishonest it considered that it also lacked integrity and would not be conduct expected of a professional.
Particular 2 – Found Proved
The Registered Person:
a) did not provide his client with adequate advice in relation to planning; and/or
b) provided planning advice to his client that he knew to be inappropriate.
- The Committee accepted the evidence of the Referrer that he had been told by the Registered Person that the approach should be to submit two planning applications. The Committee noted that this was confirmed by the email sent by the Registered Person on 24 July 2014. The Committee accepted the Referrer’s evidence that he “trusted” the Registered Person as a professional and accepted his advice.
- The Committee had regard to the contemporaneous documents sent by the Registered Person including the letter and Conditions of Appointment document. The Committee could find no evidence that the Registered Person gave advice to the Referrer about this approach and the risks of proceeding in this way. The Committee noted the email dated 24 July 2014 from the Registered Person which suggested that the approach would be difficult for Planning Enforcement to control. The Committee understood this to mean that it was not a permissible approach but would be unlikely to be discovered or enforced. This is consistent with the Referrer’s evidence that the Registered Person told him that the planning department would “never know” that the applications had been combined.
- The Committee considered that the Registered Person took no steps to explain the risks of this approach to the Referrer should the planning department discover the true position. The Committee considered that the essence of the scheme proposed by the Registered Person was to effectively confuse or mislead the Planning Department in order to frustrate any enforcement action for a project which he knew to be in breach of the rules. The Committee could see no evidence that this was explained to the Referrer, even when he raised concerns about the approach. In these circumstances the Committee had no difficulty in concluding that the advice given by the Registered Person was both inadequate and inappropriate.
- The Committee having found these particulars proved went on to consider whether the conduct lacked integrity. The Committee considered that the essence of the Registered Person’s advice was to suggest to the Referrer that he adopt an approach which attempted to circumvent the legitimate planning processes and mislead the planning department about what was actually going to be constructed. The Committee considered that as a professional the Registered Person had a duty to advise the client in accordance with the planning regime. The Committee considered that to advise the client to pursue a scheme where he could effectively “get round” those rules and build something that would otherwise would not be permissible, was in the Committee’s view, lacking in integrity.
Particular 3 – Found Proved
The Registered Person did not deal with a complaint appropriately, contrary to Standard 10 of the Architects Code.
- The Committee noted the evidence of the Referrer that he began raising issues with the Registered Person’s performance and other issues relating to the project in February 2015. The Committee noted the email dated 19 February 2015 in which the Referrer highlighted his concerns with the planning permission approach and the frequency of communication from the Registered Person. The Committee notes that by 2 March 2015 the complaints from the Referrer remained unaddressed. In his email of 2 March, the Referrer stated that his confidence and trust have been dented and he considers the relationship has deteriorated on the basis of him raising genuine concerns. On 25 March 2015 the Referrer sent a formal complaint letter via email to the Registered Person with a schedule of complaints and requested a copy of the complaint’s procedure. On the 1 April 2015 the Registered Person responded with a request for unpaid fees but did not respond to the issues raised in the schedule of complaints. The Committee accepted the evidence of the Referrer that the Registered Person did not ever respond to his complaints.
- Taking the evidence of the Referrer together with the contemporaneous documents the Committee is satisfied that the Registered Person did not adequately respond to the Referrer’s complaints. No acknowledgement of the complaint was sent and no copy of the complaints procedure was provided, despite a request from the Referrer. In addition, none of the correspondence from the Registered Person deals with the issues raised by the Referrer.
Particulars 4 and 5 – Found Proved
The Registered Person did not co-operate fully with his regulatory requirements contrary to Standard 11 of the Architects Code;
The Registered Person did not provide evidence of adequate Professional Indemnity Insurance cover to the ARB when requested to do so contrary to Standard 8 of the Architects Code;
- The Committee has considered these particulars together as they arise from the investigation conducted by ARB. The Committee notes that ARB notified the Registered Person on 9 September 2021 about the allegations and the letter also requested evidence of the Registered Person’s current professional indemnity insurance. This was to be provided by 23 September 2021. A reminder email was sent on 28 September 2021 requesting a response by 1 October 2021. Telephone calls were made to the Registered Person on the 15 October 2021 and 25 November 2021. Emails were sent on 14 and 25 March 2022. Further attempts have been made to engage the Registered Person once the matter was listed for a hearing. The Registered Person has not engaged. The Registered Person has not responded to letters or emails and has not sent any documents to ARB. There was a limited engagement via webchat on 14 November 2022 in which the Registered Person stated he does not wish to defend himself and refuses to provide an email address.
- The Committee was satisfied that the Registered Person has not co-operated with the ARB investigation nor provided evidence of his indemnity insurance as requested.
Decision on UPC
- In deciding whether the facts found proved amount to UPC the Committee had regard to Spencer v General Osteopathic Council  EWHC 3147 (Admin). It has borne in mind in reaching its decision that for a finding of unacceptable professional conduct to be made, “a degree of moral blameworthiness on the part of the registrant likely to convey a degree of opprobrium to the ordinary intelligent citizen” was required. Any failing should be serious. The Committee accepts that “mere negligence does not constitute misconduct” and that “a single negligent act or omission is less likely to cross the threshold of misconduct than multiple acts or omissions….a single instance of negligent treatment unless very serious indeed, would be unlikely to constitute deficient professional performance”.
- The Committee considered that the dishonest conduct of the Registered Person which involved amending contractual documents was a serious falling short of the standards expected. This had the potential to cause serious legal difficulties for the Referrer but more importantly undermined the trust that had been placed in him as a professional.
- The Committee considered that the failure to properly advise and obtain planning permission for the works was a serious falling short of the responsibilities of an architect and caused delay, expense and upset to the Referrer when the true position came to light. He was no longer able to build what he had been expecting and this caused delay to the project. The advice also put the Referrer at serious risk of enforcement action.
- The Committee considered that the Registered Person’s failure to respond to the Referrer’s complaints adequately, was a very serious falling short of the Standards. A client is entitled to expect that an architect will respond to complaints and concerns professionally and courteously. A client should have confidence that an architect will address issues when they arise. The Referrer was left out of pocket and employed another professional to complete the drawing work.
- The Committee considered that it was required that all architects would co-operate with the Regulator and provide such information and documents as requested. The Committee considered that the Registered Person had effectively ignored requests from ARB and refused to participate in the process or provide sufficient explanation to justify his refusal to engage. This has led to ARB being unable to fully carry out its functions and investigate appropriately. The Committee considered that this was a very serious breach of Standards 8.4 and 11.1 and went to the heart of the responsibilities of a registered professional.
- In the Committee’s view, the Registered Person’s conduct constituted a breach of Standards 1.1, 6.1, 6.3, 10.1 and 10.2 of the 2010 Code and Standards 8.4 and 11.1 of the 2017 Code. The Committee has found that the Registered Person did not act with honesty and integrity in the provision of services to his client and has sought to avoid scrutiny of his conduct by failing to engage in the complaints process or the investigation by the Regulator.
- The Committee considered these failings to be very serious. They have impacted on the reputation of the profession and had a financial and personal effect on the Referrer and his family. The Registered Person’s conduct has impacted on the Regulator’s ability to effectively regulate the profession in the public interest.
- The Committee took into account its findings in relation to honesty and integrity and considered that the Registered Person’s conduct was a significant falling short of the standards required of an architect. Members of the public and the profession would be shocked that an architect had amended important contractual documents and inserted the initials of the client without informing the client which could have led to significant legal consequences. In addition, members of the public and the profession would be concerned to learn that an architect had, in essence, given the client advice about circumventing the legitimate planning process in an attempt to take advantage of difficulties with checking and enforcement. This exposed the client to a risk of enforcement and significant costs consequences if he was required to demolish the extension.
- It is the Committee’s finding that the facts found proved and the corresponding breaches of the Code are serious and adversely impact both on the reputation of an architect and the profession generally. They represent a standard of conduct falling significantly and materially below the standard expected of a registered architect.
- In all the circumstances and for the reasons set out above, the Committee finds that the Registered Person’s conduct does amount to unacceptable professional conduct in respect of all the particulars both individually and cumulatively.
- The Case Presenter set out the ARB’s submissions in relation to sanction and drew the Committee’s attention to the ARB’s Sanctions Guidance dated 1 April 2022. The Case Presenter submitted that the Committee should have regard to the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors when assessing the level of sanction.
- In terms of aggravating factors, she asked the Committee to remind itself of its findings in relation to UPC and take into account the following:
a) The serious effect of the failings of the Registered Person on the Referrer.
b) There have been findings of dishonesty and lack of integrity in relation to more than one area of the Registered Person’s conduct.
c) The Registered Person has not demonstrated any insight into his actions.
d) The Registered Person had not provided any evidence of corrective steps taken to reassure the Committee that his failings will not be repeated.
- As for mitigating factors the Case Presenter informed the Committee that there were no adverse regulatory findings against the Registered Person.
Decision on Sanction
- The Committee then considered whether to impose a sanction, and if so, which one. The Committee has had regard to the public interest, which includes the need to protect the public, to maintain confidence in the profession and ARB as regulator, and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. The Committee has carefully considered all the evidence and submissions made during the course of this hearing. It has heard and accepted the advice of the Legally Qualified Chair. It has borne in mind that the purpose of imposing a sanction is not to be punitive although it may have a punitive effect. It has taken into account the Registered Person’s interests, the ARB Sanctions Guidance and the need to act proportionately. The Committee has taken into account any aggravating and mitigating factors in this case, and it has exercised its own independent judgement.
- The Committee has identified the following aggravating factors:
a) The Registered Person’s failings have had a serious effect on the Referrer and his family. In addition to placing him at risk of enforcement action the Referrer incurred further expense and delay in completing his project. Ultimately, he was not able to achieve what he had originally envisaged. He had instructed the Registered Person on the basis of a flawed understanding of what he could achieve and spent money on fees that he might otherwise not have done.
b) The Registered Person has not provided any evidence of insight into the seriousness of these failings and has not provided any evidence that he has learned from his mistakes, or given reassurances that they will not be repeated;
c) The Registered Person’s dishonesty involved a number of aspects of this project and related to fundamental responsibilities.
d) The Registered Person’s failings demonstrate a pattern of poor conduct throughout his work on the project and subsequently with ARB.
- The Committee has identified the following mitigating factors:
a) The Registered Person has no previous adverse regulatory history;
b) There is some information that the Registered Person has recently been in poor health although the Committee was unable to attach much weigh to this aspect given the lack of evidence.
- Taking into account the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and looking at all the facts in the round, the Committee considered there was a risk of repetition given the lack of appreciation of the issues and the failure to provide evidence of any remedial steps undertaken. The Committee could not be reassured that the Registered Person did not have entrenched integrity issues.
- The matters found proved are serious to the extent that the Registered Person’s failings diminish both his reputation, and that of the profession generally and exposed his client to substantial detriment and financial loss. The public would expect to rely on an architect to be honest, act with integrity and to protect their interests. The Committee is mindful of its role to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour. The Committee has reminded itself as to its findings regarding the seriousness of all the matters found proved.
- The Committee had regard to Paragraph 8 of the Sanctions Guidance and considered that the Registered Person’s dishonesty was related to a number of different aspects of the project. The Registered Person had taken advantage of the trust placed in him to propose a scheme that resulted in him securing the work and associated fees.
- The Committee concluded that the Registered Person’s conduct was sufficiently serious for it to require the imposition of a sanction and has considered them in ascending order of severity.
- The Committee has balanced the Registered Person’s own interests with those of the profession and the public and has borne in mind the need to act proportionately.
- The Committee first considered whether to impose a reprimand. However, having considered the Sanctions Guidance and the factors detailed above, the Committee considered that the nature of the UPC found proved was too serious for such a sanction to be considered appropriate or proportionate. The Committee reminded itself of the findings it had made in relation to UPC and did not consider that the Registered Person’s conduct, in particular the dishonesty and lack of integrity, was at the lower end of the scale.
- The Committee next considered whether to impose a penalty order and considered that, for the same reasons, such an order was neither appropriate nor proportionate. The UPC is too serious for the imposition of a penalty order.
- The Committee then considered whether to impose a suspension order. Having carefully considered the sanctions guidance the Committee concluded that such a sanction would be insufficient to uphold the reputation of the profession or protect the public. Given the seriousness of the UPC and the identified risk of repetition together with the lack of any meaningful insight the Committee concluded that a suspension order would not be sufficient to uphold the public interest. The Committee has taken into account the Registered Person’s unblemished career and the fact that this was a failing in relation to one project. However, the failings are so serious as in addition to the dishonesty, there has been a systematic failure to engage with the Regulator. The Committee considers these failings are incompatible with continuing to be an architect. The Committee considered the matters found damaged the trust that the public places in the profession and fell far short of what is expected.
- The Committee considered that given the seriousness of the matters found proved the only appropriate and proportionate sanction to uphold the reputation of the profession and protect the public is erasure. The Committee has had regard to the impact of such a sanction on the Registered Person but considers that the public interest outweighs his interests.
- The Committee therefore directs that the Registered Person’s name is erased from the Register. The Committee recommends that the Registered Person shall be entitled to apply for restoration to the Register in no less than four years which the Committee considers is proportionate in the circumstances.
- This would mean that should the Registered Person wish to return to practice as an architect, he would have to demonstrate that he is fit to do so by satisfying the ARB that he had addressed the failings that gave rise to the findings of this Committee before returning to practice as an architect. The Committee considered that this was an essential safeguard for the public and to ensure that the reputation of the profession is upheld.
- That concludes this determination.