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Mr Gerald William Adair Binmore

THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD

PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE

In the matter of

Mr Gerald William Adair Binmore (049405D)

Held as a video conference

On 9-12 November 2020

———-

Present

Emma Boothroyd (PCC Chair)

David Kann (PCC Architect Member)

Martin Pike (PCC Lay Member)

In this case, ARB is represented by Ms Kathryn Sheridan of Kingsley Napley LLP.
Mr Binmore has not attended this hearing during the facts and UPC stage but has attended to address the Committee on Sanction. Mr Binmore is not legally represented.

The Professional Conduct Committee (“PCC”) found Mr Binmore guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (“UPC”) in that he:

  1. Issued a Practical Completion Certificate in respect of the Top Yard Stables with an incorrect and fabricated:

(a)    Issue date; and
(b)    Completion date

  1. Issued Practical Completion Certificates in respect of all of the buildings listed at Schedule A in January 2017 but backdated the documents to between February 2015 and April 2015;
  2. Knew or ought to have known, that the issue dates on all of the certificates in particulars 1 and 2 above were incorrect;
  3. Issued the Practical Completion Certificate in respect of Top Yard Stables when he was not party to any contract in relation to the building;
  4. Mr Binmore’s actions at particulars 1, 2, 3 and 4 lacked integrity and were dishonest.

and that by doing so, he acted in breach of Standards 1.1, 1.2 and 6.1 of the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice 2017 (“the Code”).

The sanction imposed is a penalty order of £2,500.

1. In this matter, ARB was represented by Ms Kathryn Sheridan. Mr Binmore did not attend and was not represented.

2. Mr Binmore (‘the Respondent’) faces the following allegation:

That he is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct based on the following particulars:

1. The Respondent issued a Practical Completion Certificate in respect of the Top Yard Stables with an incorrect and/or fabricated:

(a) Issue date;and/or
(b) Completion date

2. The Respondent issued Practical Completion Certificates in respect of any individual and/or all of the buildings listed at Schedule A in January 2017 but backdated the documents to between February 2015 and April 2015;
3. The Respondent knew or ought to have known, that the issue dates on any individual and/or all of the certificates in particulars 1 and 2 above were incorrect;
4. The Respondent issued the Practical Completion Certificate in respect of Top Yard Stables when he was not party to any contract in relation to the building;
5. The Respondent’s actions at particulars 1,2,3 and/or 4 lacked integrity and/or were dishonest.

Schedule A
• Barn Conversion Works (dated as completion on 1 April 2015 and issued on 2 April 2015)
• Ancillary Cottage Renovation Works (Dated as completion on 26 February 2015 and issued on 3 March 2015)
• Ancillary Studio (Dated as completion on 9 March 2015 and issued on 10 March 2015)
• Main House including garage/gym (Dated as completion on 1 April 2015 and issued on 2 April 2015)
• Main Stable Yard Renovation Works (Dated as completion on 26 February 2015 and issued on 3 March 2015)

3. As a preliminary issue, the Committee considered whether to adjourn matters or proceed in the absence of the Respondent. 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 Ms Sheridan 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. Ms Sheridan referred to the case of R V Hayward & Jones [2003] 1 AC HL and GMC V Adeyogba and Visvardis and set out the factors to which the Committee should have regard. She submitted that there was no suggestion that the Respondent would attend any adjourned hearing and an adjournment would serve no useful purpose. She further submitted that the Respondent had given unequivocal statements about his intention not to attend.

4. 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 [2001] EWCA Crim 168 and approved in the House of Lords and also the case of GMC v Adeogba and Visvardis [2016] EWCA Civ 162.

5. The Committee noted that the relevant Notice of Hearing and supporting documentation was served on the Respondent at his registered address on 17 September 2020 in accordance with Rule 6 and 10(a) of the Professional Conduct Committee Rules and Section 3 of the Architects Act 1997. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent has been properly served with the required notice of this hearing. Indeed, the Respondent has confirmed that he is aware of the arrangements for the hearing but does not intend to join via Zoom.

6. The Committee took into account all of the circumstances put forward by the Respondent and by Ms Sheridan on behalf of ARB. In particular, the Committee also considered whether there was any reason why the hearing would be unfair if it was conducted virtually. The Committee has taken into account the relevant case law in relation to virtual hearings and in particular the factors as outlined in the case of Re A (Children) (Remote Hearing: Care and Placement Orders) [2020] EWCA Civ 583.

7. The Committee has exercised great care and caution in reaching its decision and has carefully considered the overall fairness of the proceedings. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent 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 aware of the hearing and had chosen to voluntarily absent himself. He had provided a reply to ARB setting out his position which the Committee could take into account. There was no realistic prospect that the Respondent would attend any adjourned hearing and the Committee could identify no good reason to adjourn. There were two witnesses ready to give evidence together with the Inquirer and any delay or adjournment would be inconvenient and possibly have an effect on recollections of events. The allegations against the Respondent are serious and the Committee determined it is in the public interest that they are dealt with expeditiously.

8. The Respondent has not requested an adjournment and there is no reason to suppose he will attend at any future hearing. Although there may be some disadvantage to the Respondent if he is unable to present his case in person, he has been made aware and nevertheless chosen not to attend. In balancing the interests of the Respondent 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 Respondent.

Background

9. The Respondent is a registered architect and owns his own practice. The background to the allegations is that the Respondent was approached by his client Mr W (‘the Client’) in January 2017 to provide an “Architects certificate” and “appropriate plan” which stated when works were completed on a number of buildings at his property, Haybarn. Haybarn is a large property consisting of a main house and a number of ancillary buildings and is used as an equestrian facility. The Respondent had been appointed by the contractor/developer to prepare drawings for some of the buildings at Haybarn. The Respondent was not appointed either to design any of the works in question or administer the building contract for the works on the Client’s behalf.

10. The Respondent prepared and signed six Practical Completion Certificates on 27 January 2017 which certified that works were practically complete on various dates in 2014 and 2015. It is alleged that the Respondent backdated the issue dates on these certificates which was dishonest and/or lacking in integrity.

11. One of the certificates related to some wooden stable boxes referred to as “Top Yard Stables”. The Respondent prepared a Practical Completion Certificate which had an issue date of 25 February 2014 and certified that these works were practically complete on 21 February 2014.

12. In April 2018 the Client’s made an application for retrospective planning permission for a dwelling that had been erected close to Top Yard Stables. As part of the application process, in June 2018, a representative of the Local Authority attended to inspect the site. During the visit it was established that the stable boxes did not have planning permission and the Client was asked when they were erected. It was the Client’s recollection that these had been in-situ for more than four years and in those circumstances he was advised to make an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.

13. Under Section 191 of the Town & Country Planning Act a Certificate of Lawfulness can be applied for if a structure has been in place in excess of four years and no enforcement notice has been served. The onus is on the applicant to prove the structure has been in place for more than four years. If the Local Authority is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that this is the case it must issue a Certificate of Lawfulness.

14. On 18 July 2018 the Local Authority received an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness from the Client for Top Yard Stables. In support of that application, along with some other documentation the Client included the Certificate of Practical Completion signed by the Respondent which stated that the stable works had been completed on 21 February 2014.

15. Part of the process for a Certificate of Lawfulness involves consideration of the application by the local Parish Council. The application was listed to be considered at a special meeting in August 2018. A few days prior to the meeting, the Chair of the Parish Council was contacted by a parishioner who provided him with an aerial photograph of the Haybarn site dated 22 July 2014 which did not show the stables. The Chair of the Parish Council produced the photograph at the meeting and showed it to the Client who was also present.

16. The day after the meeting the Client withdrew his application for a Certificate of Lawfulness. The Local Authority then commenced an investigation as to whether there had been some fraud on the part of the Client. As part of that investigation Ms C (‘the Local Authority Planning Enforcement Officer’) contacted the Respondent on 22 January 2019 and asked him for information about the circumstances relating to his preparation of the Practical Completion Certificate for Top Yard Stables. The Respondent emailed the Local Authority Planning Enforcement Officer on 4 February 2019 with his explanation as to how he had come to prepare the Certificate.

17. The Planning Enforcement Officer interviewed the Client under caution about the matter on 6 March 2019. On 22 May 2019 the Planning Enforcement Officer wrote to the Client confirming that following the investigation no further action would be taken against him.

18. On 3 June 2019 the Chair of the Parish Council telephoned the Respondent to ask for further information about the dates on the Practical Completion Certificate. The Chair of the Parish Council took a note of the conversation and he states that the Respondent told him that he had been approached for the Completion Certificates “last summer”. The Chair of the Parish Council disclosed this telephone note to the Local Authority. On 11 June 2019 the Head of Planning at the Local Authority submitted a complaint to the ARB on the basis that the date on the Practical Completion Certificate was wrong and had been generated in the knowledge that it was to be used to support the application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.

19. The Respondent explains that he was approached for the Certificate in January 2017, well before any planning application was contemplated. He produced the email trail which set out the circumstances and also provided the other Practical Completion Certificates that he had signed. The Respondent stated that he had some knowledge of the site and mistakenly took his client’s word for the date of completion in good faith. The Respondent explained that the Haybarn development was the subject of some local opposition and the complaint against him was motivated by dislike of the Client. The Respondent accepted that the dates on the documents were incorrect but denied that there was any improper motive and this was simply a mistake. The Respondent explained that there had been no adverse consequences as the application was withdrawn as soon as the error came to light and the situation had now been resolved. There was no enforcement action taken and no action taken against the Client.

Decision on facts and UPC

20. In reaching its decisions, the Committee has carefully considered the submissions of the parties, together with the documentary evidence presented to it in the Report of ARB’s Solicitor together with the submissions made by the Respondent. The Committee heard live evidence from the Planning Enforcement Officer, Mr M (‘the Chair of the Parish Council’) and Mr A (‘the Inquirer’).

21. The Committee considered that the Planning Enforcement Officer gave clear evidence and was able to explain in detail the process of the application made by the Client. The Planning Enforcement Officer was a credible and helpful witness.

22. The Chair of the Parish Council gave clear evidence and was a helpful witness.

23. The Inquirer was able to explain the technical aspects of a Practical Completion Certificate and gave helpful and credible evidence.

24. 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 ARB and that the civil standard applies, namely proof on the balance of probabilities. It has had regard to the good character of the Respondent and applied the relevant test in relation to dishonesty/ lack of integrity matters as outlined in the case of Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd [2017] UK SC67 and Wingate and Evans v SRA and SRA v Malins [2018] EWC8 Civ 366.

25. 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.

26. UPC is defined as conduct which falls short of the standard required of a registered person. 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

1. The Respondent issued a Practical Completion Certificate in respect of the Top Yard Stables with an incorrect and/or fabricated:

(a) issue date and/or
(b) completion date

27. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent had issued the Practical Completion Certificate on 27 January 2017 and attached it to his email to the Client of that date and had inserted the date of issue as 25 February 2014 which was incorrect. The Committee had regard to the aerial photograph of the site from July 2014 and was satisfied that the stables were not in situ at that time. The Committee were therefore satisfied that the completion date of 21 February 2014 was also incorrect. The Respondent had admitted the facts of this allegation.

28. The Committee looked at the email from the Client to the Respondent which gave the date of completion of the works to the stables as the month of February 2014. The Committee had no evidence that the Client told the Respondent that it was completed on the 21 February. The Committee considered that it was more probable than not that the Respondent had simply chosen that date at random and it was a fiction.

29. The Committee noted the evidence of the Inquirer who explained that a Certificate of Practical Completion should be issued promptly. The effect of a certificate is to demonstrate to third parties that the architect has inspected the works and, at the point of inspection, the structure is substantially complete and free from patent defects. The Certificate would need to have a specific day as well as month. A certificate dated years after the date of completion would be, according to the evidence of the Inquirer, “worthless”.

30. The Committee concluded that an exact date of completion was required and the date of issue was required to be proximate to the date of completion for the Certificate to have any meaning. The Respondent had information from the Client that the stables were completed in February 2014. In these circumstances the Committee was satisfied that the Respondent had fabricated the dates of the 21 and 25 February 2014 to ensure the Certificate appeared valid.

31. The Committee did not accept the Respondent’s assertion that the date of issue was a clerical error and with hindsight it would have been better if he had dated it as January 2017. The Committee concluded that it had been a conscious decision on the part of the Respondent to fabricate an exact date of issue and completion within the month of February 2014 and insert it on to the Certificate.

Particular 2 – Found Proved

2. The Respondent issued Practical Completion Certificates in respect of any individual and/or all of the buildings listed at Schedule A in January 2017 but backdated the documents to between February 2015 and April 2015;

32. The Committee had regard to the Practical Completion Certificates for each of the buildings listed in Schedule A and the Respondent’s email dated 27 January 2017 to the Client enclosing the Certificates. The Respondent has admitted that these certificates were issued in January 2017 but he has backdated each one to between February 2015 and April 2015.

Particular 3 – Found Proved

3. The Respondent knew or ought to have known, that the issue dates on any individual and/or all of the certificates in particulars 1 and 2 above were incorrect;

33. The Committee noted that the Respondent had denied this allegation. The Committee considered the Respondent’s email dated 27 January 2017 and took into account that the Respondent had admitted that the issue dates on the Certificates were in fact backdated. The Committee concluded that the Respondent did know that the issue dates he was inserting into all the Certificates were not the dates that they were issued. The Committee did not accept that the Respondent had no knowledge that these issue dates were incorrect. These were matters within his own knowledge and the Committee was satisfied that the Respondent knew in January 2017 that the issue dates were incorrect and not the date the Certificates were issued by him.

Particular 4 – Found Proved

4. The Respondent issued the Practical Completion Certificate in respect of Top Yard Stables when he was not party to any contract in relation to the building;

34. The Respondent has admitted this particular. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent had issued the Practical Completion Certificate when he was not a party to any contract in relation to Top Yard Stables.

Particular 5 – Found Proved

5. The Respondent’s actions at particulars 1, 2, 3 and/or 4 lacked integrity and/or were dishonest.

35. The Committee considered the Respondent’s explanation for what had happened. The Respondent has stated from the outset that he relied on the Client’s dates as to when works were completed and issued the Certificates as requested based on the information he had been given. The Respondent states that he had some knowledge of the site and he had a longstanding professional relationship with the Client. He stated that it is clear from the emails that the Certificates were not produced for the subsequent planning application and he has relied on his client’s mistaken recollection in good faith.

36. In a letter to the Planning Enforcement Officer dated 15 October 2019 the Client explains that he approached the Respondent for a “Completion Certificate” for Top Yard Stables in January 2017 “as purely a record of installation.” The Client’s email to the Respondent dated 27 January 2017 refers to their previous discussion and a request to provide certificates in respect of six separate projects including Top Yard Stables. Neither the Respondent nor the Client has explained why the Client required an architect to certify these projects or dates or why the Client has no records of when these projects were completed.

37. The Committee considered whether the Respondent’s actions in relation to Particular 1 lacked integrity and or were dishonest. The Committee noted that the Respondent took no steps to establish why he was being asked to provide this professional certificate and took no steps to satisfy himself that the dates he was inserting into the certificate were correct. The Committee reminded itself of the finding that the Respondent inserted a fabricated date of issue and a fabricated day of completion. The Committee was in no doubt that the Respondent’s conduct lacked integrity.

38. The Committee considered that, as a registered architect, the Respondent was well aware of the nature of a Professional Completion Certificate and what such a Certificate was likely to convey to a third party. The Committee considered that he would have known that it needed to contain a precise date of completion and bear an issue date that was reasonably proximate. The Committee considered that by inserting a completion date that was made up and backdating the issue date the Respondent knew he was acting dishonestly and his actions would be considered dishonest by ordinary honest people.

39. For the same reasons as Particular 1 the Committee considered the Respondent’s actions amounted to dishonesty and lack of integrity in relation to Particulars 2 and 3. The Committee considered that the Respondent was likely to have been aware that the issue dates on the Certificates needed to be proximate to the date the works were completed for the Certificates to have any meaning. In backdating the issue dates the Respondent was effectively providing professional certification that he had inspected the works detailed on the certificates at the time of completion. The Committee was satisfied that it was likely that the Respondent knew that backdating the issue dates on those certificates would give a misleading impression. The Committee concluded that his conduct was both lacking in integrity and would be considered dishonest by ordinary honest people.

40. With regard to Particular 4 the Committee accepted that there was no contract in place in relation to the construction of the stables. The Committee accepted the evidence of the Inquirer that a Practical Completion Certificate should only be issued when there is a contract in place and the architect is a party to that contract. The Committee took account of the Inquirer’s evidence that a Practical Completion Certificate signed by an architect conveys a number of factors. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent was aware of the significance of signing a Practical Completion Certificate. In particular, that it would convey he was a party to the contract and had knowledge of the building such that it was proper to certify practical completion. The Respondent was aware that neither of those things were accurate and the Committee considered that his actions in signing the Certificate suggested a misleading position and his conduct was both dishonest and lacking in integrity. The Committee considered that ordinary honest people would consider the Respondent’s conduct to be dishonest.

41. In deciding whether the facts found proved amount to UPC the Committee had regard to Spencer v General Osteopathic Council [2012] 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”.

42. The Committee considered that the declarations on the Practical Completion Certificate essentially confirmed that the Respondent was a party to the contract, had visited the site at the date of completion and was satisfied that the building was practically complete at that date. The Respondent had inserted dates of issue on those certificates that were false and he knew to be false without any consideration of what the Client intended to do with those Certificates.

43. The Committee accepted that the Respondent did not create the Certificate for Top Stables for the purpose of the planning application given the timing of the email in January 2017. Nevertheless, the Respondent had produced a backdated Professional Completion Certificate without undertaking the appropriate inspection at the time or being a party to any contract. His professional certification was misleading and wrong and he knew it to be so.

44. The Committee accepts that the Respondent advised the Client to withdraw his application when the mistake was discovered and the planning application was subsequently resolved. However, the Respondent provided professional certificates without due regard to the circumstances in which they may be used. If architects do not satisfy themselves that the information that is contained on Practical Completion Certificates is accurate then the certificates are worthless.

45. The Committee accepted the evidence of the Inquirer and the Planning Enforcement Officer that Practical Completion Certificates are used by lenders, Local Authorities and subsequent purchasers as evidence that buildings were constructed at a relevant date and are free from patent defects.

46. In the Committee’s view, the Respondent’s conduct constituted a breach of Standards 1.1, 1.2 and 6.1 of the 2017 Code. The Committee has found that the Respondent did not act with honesty and integrity and issued certificates that were incorrect and misleading. The Committee considered that the Respondent did not discharge his responsibility faithfully, conscientiously and with due regard to the relevant technical and professional standards in certifying that the Top Yard Stables had achieved practical completion on 21 February 2014 as he had taken no steps to verify this was the case.

47. The Committee considered these failings to be serious. They have impacted on the reputation of the profession and led to the Local Authority to undertaking an investigation. The Committee noted the Client’s comments that he was happy with the Respondent’s services and took account of his explanation that he was responsible for providing the incorrect information to the Respondent. The Committee has also noted that the planning application was withdrawn on the Respondent’s advice as soon as he was aware that the stables were not in situ in February 2014.

48. The Committee took into account its findings in relation to honesty and integrity and considered that the Respondent’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 backdated professional certificates in these circumstances.

49. 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 the architect and the profession generally. They represent a standard of conduct falling significantly and materially below the standard expected of a registered architect.

50. In all the circumstances and for the reasons set out above, the Committee finds that the Respondent’s conduct does amount to unacceptable professional conduct.

Sanction

51. Ms Sheridan set out ARB’s submissions in relation to sanction and drew the Committee’s attention to ARB’s Sanctions Guidance. Ms Sheridan submitted that the Committee should have regard to the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors when assessing the level of sanction. Ms Sheridan confirmed that the Respondent had no previous regulatory history with ARB. She submitted that the Committee might be minded to consider the following aggravating factors:

I. It was an act of dishonesty;
II. The Respondent has demonstrated limited insight and remediation in relation to his dishonest conduct.

52. Ms Sheridan submitted that there were mitigating factors, the Respondent had made admissions to some charges and he had no previous regulatory history in his lengthy career.

53. The Respondent attended the hearing and addressed the Committee in mitigation. The Respondent confirmed he had read the decision of the Committee in relation to facts and UPC and understood that this part of the process had concluded. He set out that he was deeply upset at the finding of dishonesty.

54. The Respondent submitted that he had been open and transparent with the Local Authority and ARB throughout about what had happened. He stated that his account had been consistent. The Respondent accepted that he should not have done what he did and as soon as he was aware of what had happened he took steps to put matters right by advising the Client to withdraw the planning application. The Respondent explained that it was never his intention to mislead anyone and he expressed genuine regret and remorse. The Respondent submitted that this was an isolated incident in a long and unblemished career. He submitted that he held himself to very high standards and he recognised that he had not met those standards. The Respondent stated that he was acting with a genuine belief that he was assisting his client and relied on the incorrect information he was given.

55. 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 and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct, behaviour and competence. 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 Respondent’s interests, the sanctions guidance and the need to act proportionately. It has taken into account any aggravating and mitigating factors in this case. The Committee has exercised its own independent judgement.

56. Having taken into account the submissions, the Committee has identified the following mitigating factors:

I. The Respondent has no adverse regulatory history in his 40-year career since joining ARB’s register;
II. This was an isolated incident relating to one client;
III. There was no financial gain to the Respondent;
IV. The Respondent took steps to mitigate the effects of his error immediately by ensuring that the planning application was withdrawn;
V. There were no significant consequences for the planning process or the client and the matter has been resolved by the subsequent grant of planning permission for the Top Yard Stables;
VI. The Respondent has engaged in the ARB process;
VII. The Respondent has acknowledged that his conduct was wrong;
VIII. The Respondent has expressed genuine regret and remorse for his conduct.

57. The Committee has identified the following aggravating factors:

I. His failings had an impact on the integrity of professional certificates and led to the Local Authority undertaking an investigation.
II. The Respondent acted dishonestly, although the Committee considers that dishonesty to be at the lower end of the spectrum given that it was isolated and not motivated by a financial gain and was a misguided attempt to assist a longstanding client. However, dishonesty in the issue of professional documents must be regarded as a serious matter.

58. The Committee notes that the matters found proved are serious to the extent that the Respondent’s failings diminish both his reputation and that of the profession generally. The Committee therefore concluded that the Respondent’s conduct was sufficiently serious for it to require the imposition of a sanction and has considered them in ascending order of severity.

59. The Committee first considered whether to impose a reprimand. The Committee considered that the Respondent did demonstrate the factors that would make this sanction appropriate including previous good disciplinary history, genuine expression of regret, some insight into failings, and early corrective steps taken. The Committee considered that this behaviour would be highly unlikely to be repeated and that the hearing process had been a salutary lesson. However, given the seriousness of the UPC found proved involving dishonesty, and the effect on the reputation of the profession the Committee considered the Respondent’s failings too serious for such a sanction to be either appropriate or proportionate.

60. The Committee then considered whether to impose a penalty order. It noted that this sanction is appropriate where the offence is too serious to warrant a reprimand. It considered that this was the appropriate and proportionate sanction given that the factors for a reprimand were identified above. The Committee considered that the Respondent’s conduct was at the lower end of the spectrum of dishonesty and was motivated by a genuine attempt to assist a longstanding client rather than in furtherance of a dishonest intention. The Committee noted the Respondent’s lengthy unblemished career and considered this action to have been a one-off incident of extremely poor judgement.

61. The Committee considered that a penalty order at the maximum permitted amount, together with its findings in relation to UPC would be sufficient to mark the conduct as unacceptable and uphold the reputation of the profession.

62. Having determined that a penalty order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction the Committee considered a suspension order. The Committee did consider very carefully whether the public interest required a suspension. However, given all of the mitigating factors and the Committee’s finding that this conduct was highly unlikely to be repeated, it considered that preventing the Respondent from practising as an architect for a period was unduly punitive taking account of all of the circumstances of this particular case.

63. The Committee therefore imposes a penalty order in the sum of £2500 which is the maximum permitted amount. The Committee considers this to be an appropriate amount to reflect the seriousness of the Respondent’s failings.

64. That concludes this determination.

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