Mr Neal Tuson
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
Mr Neal Tuson
Held as a video conference
2 to 4 September 2020 and 23 November 2020
Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
David Kann (PCC Architect Member)
Jules Griffiths (PCC Lay Member)
In this case, ARB is represented by Kathryn Sheridan of Kingsley Napley LLP.
Mr Tuson has attended this hearing and is legally represented by Mr Richard Beaty of Kennedys Law LLP.
|The Professional Conduct Committee (“PCC”) found Mr Tuson guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (“UPC”) in that he:
and that by doing so, he acted in breach of Standards 6.2 of the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice 2010 and 2017 (“the Code”).
The sanction imposed is a Penalty Order of £1500.
Decision on facts and UPC
1. In this case, ARB is represented by Ms Kathryn Sheridan. Mr Neal Tuson (“the Respondent”) has attended this hearing and is legally represented by Mr Richard Beaty. Mr Tuson faces a charge of Unacceptable Professional Conduct (“UPC”) based on one particular in that he:
1 Did not carry out his architectural work without undue delay.
2. This case arises out of a complaint made by Ms I (“the Complainant”) in respect of the professional services carried out by the Respondent. The background to this case is that the Complainant states she instructed the Respondent in April 2016 to act as architect in respect of a project to demolish an existing bungalow and building a new property on the site in the South Downs National Park. The Complainant had secured planning permission to build a three storey Huf Haus. However, as the planning process had taken so long the Complainant felt that the costs of building that property were now beyond her budget and so she contacted the Respondent for his professional advice on a realistic alternative.
3. The Respondent attended at the property on 25 April 2016 for an initial meeting where ideas were discussed. On 5 May 2016 the Respondent sent the Complainant his terms of business and that letter set out what was agreed. Initial budget estimates of between £800,000 to £1m and timescales of 10-12 months to complete the build once on site, following planning permission, were included within that letter.
4. The chronology of the case is long and complex, and it is not necessary to set it out in detail in this determination save to say that initial drawings were provided in November 2016 and planning permission was applied for in April 2017. The Complainant states that there were significant periods of delay in producing the initial drawings and making the application for planning.
5. Planning permission was granted on 28 July 2017 subject to conditions. The Complainant states that there was then a period of further delay and the Respondent did not prepare the building regulations submissions or the schedule of works in a timely manner and the building regulations application was not provided to the Complainant until December 2018 and the schedule of works was not provided until February 2019.
6. The Complainant considered that the Respondent was responsible for these periods of delay and she terminated the appointment of the Respondent.
7. The Complainant complained to ARB that the Respondent had been the cause of significant delays on her project which had added to the costs and stresses of the build. The Complainant states that as a result of the Respondent’s delay she is no longer able to afford the project and the original house has been demolished. The Complainant states that she has been left hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket with no progress and the costs of putting matters right and building her home are now unachievable.
8. The Respondent denies that he was responsible for any delay and it is his position that the delays were because of the Complainant and her inability to give clear instructions about what she required. The Respondent’s position is that the Complainant refused to pay his fees which resulted in delay and she chose to begin the build without the necessary protections in place which has led to her current problems. The Respondent denies that his conduct amounts to UPC.
9. In reaching its decisions, the Committee has carefully considered the live evidence of the Complainant, and the Respondent, together with the documentary evidence presented to it in the Report of ARB’s Solicitor, the documents exhibited to that report, and the bundle of documents supplied by the Respondent. It has considered the submissions made by the parties.
10. 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 is on ARB and that the civil standard applies, namely proof on the balance of probabilities. Whether the conduct alleged amounts to UPC is a matter for the Committee’s independent judgment to which no burden of proof applies.
11. The Committee makes the following findings of fact:
Particular 1 (Found Proved)
i) Delay between instruction and preparation of initial scheme.
12. The Committee noted that following the meeting in April 2016 the Respondent sent his terms of business promptly on the 5 May 2016. The letter stated, “…we could start to progress design options within 4 weeks of instruction, taking 3-4 weeks to prepare the initial scheme for a first meeting.”
13. On 24 May 2016 the Respondent sent an email to the Complainant confirming that he had been instructed to prepare initial sketch layouts which would lead to a meeting to discuss ideas. Within that email the Respondent asked for the documents relating to the previous planning submission and the site survey drawings. On 4 June 2016 the Complainant emailed the Respondent and stated that she didn’t have the planning drawings but they could be accessed on the portal and asked if anything further was required.
14. The Complainant chased the Respondent for progress on 11 July 2016 and 7 September 2016. The initial sketch proposal was sent to the Complainant in the post on the 15 September 2016. The Complainant confirmed she had received it on 19 September 2016. On the same day the Respondent replied “That’s great. It has taken longer than it should to reach you.”
15. The Committee considered that there was an unreasonable delay between the Complainant confirming instruction on the 24 May 2016 and the initial scheme being produced on 15 September 2016. This was outside the 7 to 8-week timescale in the Respondent’s letter and was over twice that estimate. The Respondent did not tell the Complainant that the timescale would be affected by the lack of access to the drawings or any holiday over the summer period. The agreed instruction was for the Respondent to produce a sketch scheme showing achievable ideas and not a fully designed scheme. In the circumstances the Committee considers that there was an unreasonable delay during this period.
16. After reviewing the drawings in September, the Complainant asked for a meeting with the Respondent to discuss the initial scheme. The Complainant had forwarded her comments on the design and her main concern was that the house was too small. There was a meeting with the Complainant at her home on the 25 September 2016 to discuss the amendments to the scheme and it was agreed that the Respondent would draw up a further set of plans to review. On 30 September 2016 the Respondent emailed the Complainant and stated that he was making progress and was working on updating the plans.
17. The updated plans were sent to the Complainant on the 11 November 2016. In her complaint and witness statement the Complainant was unable to recall the plans received in September 2016 or the subsequent meeting. It was her position in her complaint to ARB that she did not get any plans until November 2016. However, the Committee was satisfied that the emails make it clear that there was an earlier set of plans and a meeting to discuss them. The Committee did not consider that there was an undue delay between the first and second set of plans being provided to the Complainant.
18. The letter dated 11 November 2016 which enclosed the second set of plans highlighted that as the house was now much larger, this would have an effect on the budget and the Respondent estimated this would increase to £1.1-£1.2m. The letter also suggested a further meeting once the proposals had been considered.
19. Following the second set of plans being provided on 11 November 2016 the Respondent stated there was a further meeting with the Complainant at her house on 27 November 2016. The Complainant did not recall this meeting but it seems more likely than not that it took place as the Respondent revised the scheme again. The Complainant chased the Respondent for progress on 5 January 2017. On 14 January 2018 the Respondent emailed the Complainant with the latest drawings and stated as follows, “On the assumption that the house as designed is nearly there, and please say if not (!), then much of the remaining work will be to best describe the scheme for the benefit of the planning application.”
20. The Committee does not consider that there was any unreasonable delay between 11 November 2016 and early January 2017. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent was working on the project and incorporating the design changes as discussed.
ii) Delay in applying for planning permission.
21. After receiving the third set of plans the Complainant responded by email on 17 January 2017 confirming she was happy for the planning application to be submitted and raising a query with regard to the height. The Respondent replied the following day with a suggestion and confirmed he was progressing the planning application.
22. The Complainant chased the Respondent for progress on 24 February 2017. He replied on 2 March confirming that it was progressing and should be ready to submit “later this month”. The Complainant stated she was very upset at this point and she emailed the Respondent indicating that she was concerned about the time it was taking to submit the planning application. The Respondent emailed the following day stating that he would submit the planning application as soon as he was able but the detail of reports required for the planning application had taken him by surprise. The Respondent also attached his first invoice to this email.
23. It appears that no application was submitted in March and there was communication between the Complainant and Respondent over the telephone on 3 April 2017. The Complainant said in her evidence she was frustrated about the time things were taking. The Respondent stated that the planning application could not be submitted unless the invoice was paid. The Committee considers that there was no significant progress during the month of March 2017. Plans were issued to the Complainant on 7 April 2017 and the application was submitted on 18 April 2017.
24. The Committee considers that there was an unreasonable delay between 17 January and 18 April. The Committee accepts that this was not a straightforward planning application and the Respondent was keen to carefully prepare to ensure it was granted. Nevertheless, it does not accept that the volume and nature of the reports were such that it would take the time that it did. Much of the information was contained in the reports prepared for the previous planning application and the Committee does not accept that re-formatting the documents would account for the delay as suggested by the Respondent. At no stage did the Respondent suggest to the Complainant that the non-payment of his invoice was having an impact on the progress and he did not advise her, at any stage, that the planning application would take 3 months to prepare. The Committee considers that the delay was excessive and did amount to undue delay.
iii) Delay between planning permission and preparing the building regulation submission and schedule of works.
25. The planning application was with the council until late July 2017 and was granted with conditions. There is a dispute between the Complainant and the Respondent about what happened next. The Complainant stated that the Respondent called her the day after planning permission was granted and asked her if she wanted him to continue working on the project. The Complainant stated in her oral evidence that she told the Respondent during this telephone call that she wanted him to start work on the next stage of the project.
26. The Respondent stated that there was no telephone call on this date and he was away on holiday. He stated that he was instructed to proceed by the Complainant in a telephone call on the 31 August 2017, almost a month later as the Complainant had other matters to attend to during August.
27. The Committee considered that the confirmation to proceed with the next stage was likely to have been the telephone call on 31 August 2017. Looking at the email sent by the Respondent on 3 August 2017 it makes no mention of a call and sets out the next phases of the project together with an estimated timescale. The email asked for instructions about whether the Complainant wanted to continue to instruct the Respondent and states, “There might be some time savings if you were to use a larger firm say.”
28. The Complainant responded on 7 August and requested a chat about some queries. The Committee did not consider this email was consistent with the Complainant’s oral evidence that she had instructed the Respondent to proceed to the next stage. In these circumstances the Committee considers it likely that the Respondent was instructed to proceed to prepare the building regulation submission and the schedule of works in the call on 31 August 2017.
29. On 22 September 2017 the Respondent sent the Complainant updated drawings and a fee scale, together with an updated programme and asked her to think about finishes. The email also set out that the drawings would be sent to the structural engineer for a quote. On 3 October 2017 the Respondent sent the Complainant the quote for the engineer’s fees which was agreed on the same day by the Complainant. A further update was sent on 13 October 2017 setting out that the structural design was almost complete and there was a meeting with the engineer shortly. The email asked the Complainant for a meeting.
30. On 17 October 2017 the Complainant sent an email explaining that she had been unable to leave a message and asked for a call back to go through things. The Respondent replied the following day that “Other than scheduling a meeting a conversation is not essential.”
31. An outline schedule of work was provided in November 2017 but this was not sufficiently detailed for the Complainant to obtain definitive prices.
32. The Complainant asked for an update on 2 December 2017. On 7 December the Respondent replied that “in terms of progress this end, we are making plenty….” and “We should be in a position to submit for building regulations after Christmas now I think and then move on to the tender information in detail.” The email suggested a build start date of April, possibly March. This email did not suggest a meeting was essential at this stage before any further progress could be made.
33. The Complainant responded on 15 December and suggested a meeting in January and stated, “let me know if want or need to have a meeting.” The Respondent replied on the 22 December and stated as follows, “So the early part of January will allow for all this to come together and then we are ready to submit for building regulations. A meeting would be good, perhaps mid-late January… I still need to check a few things at your house.”
34. The meeting was arranged for 27 February 2018 and was postponed because of snow. The Respondent met with the Complainant and her prospective builder at the property on the 8 March 2018. At this stage there are various discussions and the issue of the drainage and soil conditions is discussed with the Complainant. The Respondent states that at this meeting it was discussed with the Complainants proposed contractor that he dig a trial hole so that soil conditions could be discussed with the structural engineer.
35. On 10 April 2018 the Respondent sent an email to the contractor with instructions for the trial hole and confirmed that he would issue drawings to enable the contractor to provide a price. On the 17 May 2018 the Respondent sent the following email. “….we have all but finalised the drawings for submission to building regulations. I have been in conversation with builders that Tim has contacted and budget prices for the build are being prepared. The area holding up the structural design is the trial hole… once I have this information, we can then submit the building regulation application to the council and then put together the tender schedule that the builders I have talked to require.”
36. The Complainant stated in her oral evidence that this was the first time she was made aware of this issue and she immediately set about trying to arrange getting the trial hole dug. The Complainant advised the Respondent in an email on 20 May 2018 that she had contacted a company which stated it would take 4 weeks. The Respondent emailed in response the following day to say that “The hole doesn’t need to be anything scientific – something that your gardener could dig. There is no need for any kind of formal report that might take time to prepare.”
37. On 30 May 2018 the Complainant emailed the Respondent setting out that she was unhappy with the time taken to prepare the schedule of work and the delays between the meeting at her home in February and being able to start work. The Respondent replied that the schedule of work could be ready in draft in two weeks and finalised over the third week.
38. The hole was dug in June and the information was emailed to the Respondent on 5 June 2018. The Respondent confirmed he would seek clarification from the structural engineer and on 6 June he emailed the Complainant and stated that photographs of the soil were needed. On 11 June 2018 the Respondent suggested a company could dig the trial hole and report in 2-3 weeks. Also within that email he stated, “In the interim, I am making good progress on the schedule of work, which will be with you in draft form for this Thursday. I will need to invoice you shortly, as an interim payment is long overdue for the building regulation stage, not yet completed, and as we now skip forward to the detailed Tender preparation.”
39. An invoice was sent to the Complainant on the 22 June setting out that the Building Regulations were 60% complete and the Tender Documentation was 40% complete. In the covering letter for the invoice the Respondent stated that the schedule of work was on hold whilst other more urgent work was prioritised as the Complainant had engaged a contractor to demolish the house. The Respondent indicated he would now be working on a planning submission for discharge of conditions and finalising the building regulations submission taking into account the soil excavations on site.
40. On 27 June 2018 the Complainant emailed the Respondent setting out that she was unhappy that the building regulation submission and schedule of works were not completed. The Respondent replied on 29 June and set out the reasons why the matter had taken this long. He apologised for the time taken to get the project this far and set out that the project was complex. On 27 July 2018 the Respondent emailed the Complainant and stated the building regulation submission was ready for submission. The Respondent reminded the Complainant that the earlier invoice was outstanding and a further invoice would be submitted for the completion of this stage. On 15 August 2018 the Complainant indicated that she was unhappy with the invoices and that a building regulations submission had already been made by the contractor. On 17 August 2018 the Respondent replied and set out in a lengthy email his response to the Complainant’s complaints. Within that email the Respondent states, “I agree that matters have taken longer than intended and can only apologise for this. I am agreeable to take responsibility for some of the delay, though there have been some mitigating circumstances. Current ongoing delay is a direct consequence of us not being paid…” The Respondent agreed that the relationship had broken down and that working together was now untenable. The Respondent offered to reduce his fee by £4500 to bring the matter to a close.
41. In these circumstances the Committee does consider that the Respondent did not carry out his architectural work without undue delay between August 2017 and July 2018. Whilst it is clear that there were complications and matters to be addressed, such as the drainage system, the trial hole and the finishes required, they were not unusual or unexpected issues. The issue with the soil conditions having an impact on the structural design ought to have been identified much earlier and specifically raised with the Complainant. If the Respondent was unable to progress because the Complainant had not provided vital information about finishes then he ought to have explained that matters could not proceed until the information was forthcoming. Instead, as can be seen from the above, the emails sent by the Respondent all suggest completion of the work is imminent.
42. The Committee considered that the Respondent sought to suggest that these matters caused delay to deflect from the long periods of apparent inactivity. The Committee considered that the Respondent was not proactive during this period to ensure he had the necessary information to carry out his client’s instructions. The Committee has taken into account the fact that the Respondent is a sole practitioner and that he advised the client that if she were to use a larger firm during this period there may be time savings. The Committee noted that in his own estimate of timing sent to the Complainant in August 2017 the Respondent suggested that the building regulations preparation would be completed by the end of October at the latest and the schedule of works mid-November. The Committee considers that the period to produce the building regulations submission and the tender documentation which was still not complete in August 2018 was excessive and amounted to undue delay.
iv) Delays in providing all outstanding information after August 2018.
43. It was accepted by both the Complainant and the Respondent that the professional relationship had broken down in August 2018. Following the email dated 17 August 2018 the Complainant did not immediately respond and the Committee considers that it was reasonable for the Respondent to consider he was no longer instructed to do anything further.
44. On the 3 September 2018 the Complainant asked the Respondent to forward information to her builders and send her a re-calculated invoice as she remained unhappy with the Respondent’s fees. The Respondent emailed the Complainant on 4 September and stated that he had stopped working on her project following her email and stated that he was not prepared to send his commented designs to the structural engineer without payment of the outstanding fees. The Complainant’s contractor intervened to negotiate a settlement of the fee dispute and on 18 September 2018 a revised invoice was sent to the Complainant incorporating the reduction of £4500. This was paid on 12 October 2018 and the Respondent agreed to re-start work.
45. A site visit took place on 30 October 2018 with the Respondent, the engineer and the contractor. Information was requested from the contractor on 30 November 2018 and this was provided on 5 December 2018. The building regulations submission was made on the same date.
46. The Committee did not consider that this amounted to an unreasonable delay. Work re-started promptly with a site visit taking place within a short period with all parties. The soil sample information had been received during this period and the Committee considers that overall the Respondent progressed the matter within a reasonable time frame.
47. It was expressly agreed as part of the settlement of the fee dispute that the Respondent would not complete the schedule of works unless and until he had been paid for the building regulations submission. The Respondent sent the invoice on the 5 December 2018. It was not paid by the Complainant until 5 January 2018. At that stage the Respondent began work again and the schedule of works was sent to the Complainant on 4 February 2019. The Committee does not consider that this 4-week period amounts to an unreasonable delay. The Committee has taken into account that as a sole practitioner there will be some lead in time to begin work, especially where the Respondent considered that the project was concluded or that the invoice was not going to be paid.
48. In summary the Committee considered that there were periods of undue delay in providing the initial designs between May 2016 and September 2016 and in providing the building regulations submissions and completed schedule of works between August 2017 and August 2018.
Finding on Unacceptable Professional Conduct:
49. In reaching its findings on UPC, the Committee has carefully considered all the evidence presented to it, all submissions made and has accepted the advice from the legally qualified chair. 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 result in 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.
50. The Committee has considered the authority of 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”.
51. Standard 6.2 of the 2010 and 2017 Code states that Architects should carry out their professional work without undue delay and, so far is reasonably practicable, in accordance with any timescale and costs limits agreed with your client.
52. By reason of the facts found proved, the Committee finds that the Respondent acted in breach of standards 6.2 of the 2010 and 2017 Codes. The Respondent did not carry out his work in providing initial designs within the timescale of 8weeks agreed with the Complainant and his delay in providing those initial designs was unreasonable and amounted to undue delay. The Respondent did not produce the building regulations submissions nor the schedule of works within the timescales agreed with his client and the delay was unreasonable and amounted to undue delay.
53. The Committee considered that the Respondent’s actions in failing to provide his architectural work in a timely manner was a serious failing that was likely to convey a degree of opprobrium. In isolation, some periods of delay may not have been serious and may not have had an impact on the timeliness of the project overall. However, the Committee considered that the Respondent’s failure to adequately deal with the issues that arose in a timely way and provide realistic timescales for his work as the periods of delay extended meant that the Complainant lost control of her project, instructed a contractor without waiting for the matters to be resolved and ultimately lost faith in her architect.
54. The Committee did not consider that the Respondent was responsible for the situation the Complainant subsequently faced. The Respondent was clear in his advice that she should not demolish the existing house until the project was properly costed and he urged her to ensure the contractor was adequately insured. He did explain that site conditions were having an effect on the structural design and that things could potentially change on site. It was because the Complainant was frustrated by the delays, caused in part by the Respondent, that she pressed ahead with the work on site without all of the contractual safeguards in place. The Committee is sympathetic to the difficulties the Complainant now faces and understands why she took some of the actions that she did. However, the Committee does not consider that the delays of the Respondent caused the situation she now faces in remedying the project.
55. The Committee finds that the failings of the Respondent are serious and adversely impact both on the reputation of the architect and the profession generally. As the architect, the Respondent failed to provide to his client information in a timely way that was essential for her to be able to make informed decisions on the cost, timing and progress of her project and contributed to an overall delay in progressing matters. Such a failing represents conduct falling substantially below the standard expected of a registered architect. Such failings can quite properly be categorised as UPC.
56. The Committee therefore finds that the Respondent’s conduct does amount to unacceptable professional conduct as set out above.
57. 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:
• There were repeated periods of delay;
• The Respondent has demonstrated limited insight and remediation in relation to his conduct which suggested there was a risk of repetition.
58. Ms Sheridan confirmed that the Respondent had no previous regulatory history in his career.
59. Mr Beaty addressed the Committee in mitigation. Mr Beaty confirmed the Respondent had read the decision of the Committee in relation to facts and UPC and had accepted its findings.
60. Mr Beaty submitted that the Respondent had been open and transparent with the Complainant and ARB throughout and had participated in the process. Mr Beaty submitted that although the Respondent had not made full admissions the Committee had found that not all of the delay alleged by ARB was the responsibility of the Respondent. Mr Beaty submitted that it was a matter of genuine regret to the Respondent that the relationship with the Complainant broke down. Mr Beaty submitted that this was an isolated incident in respect of one project, in a long and otherwise unblemished career. Mr Beaty reminded the Committee that the Respondent was working as the sole architect in a small practice. Mr Beaty submitted that the Respondent had given the Complainant clear “health warnings” and sought to deal with her concerns. Mr Beaty submitted that the likelihood of repetition was low and the misconduct was at the lower end of the scale. He reminded the Committee of the need to act proportionately and submitted that a reprimand was the appropriate and proportionate sanction.
61. 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. Having taken into account the submissions, the Committee has identified the following mitigating factors:
• The Respondent has no adverse regulatory history in his 25-year career since joining the Architects Register;
• This was an isolated incident relating to one client;
• The Respondent has constructively engaged in ARB’s process;
• The Respondent has expressed some regret for the situation.
62. The Committee has identified the following aggravating factors:
• The Respondent’s failings had a significant impact on the client, resulting in the breakdown of the professional relationship and delays to her project. This caused the Complainant considerable personal upset;
• The Respondent was responsible for more than one period of delay within the project which contributed to a significant overall delay;
• The Respondent has demonstrated only limited insight and remediation.
63. 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.
64. The Committee first considered whether to impose a reprimand. The Committee considered that the Respondent did demonstrate some of the factors that would make this sanction appropriate including previous good disciplinary history, genuine expression of regret and some insight into failings. However, the Respondent had provided only limited oral evidence of the steps he had taken to prevent problems of this nature occurring in the future. The Committee considered that this behaviour would be unlikely to be repeated if the correct steps were taken by the Respondent to proactively manage projects but on the evidence it was unable to be satisfied this was the case. In addition, given the seriousness of the UPC found proved, and the effect on the Complainant and the reputation of the profession the Committee considered the Respondent’s failings too serious for such a sanction to be either appropriate or proportionate.
65. 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 some of the factors for a reprimand were identified above. The Committee noted the Respondent’s long and unblemished career and considered this conduct to have been an isolated episode in the context of a challenging and complex project.
66. The Committee considered that a penalty order, together with its findings in relation to UPC, would be sufficient to mark the conduct as unacceptable and uphold the reputation of the profession.
67. Having determined that a penalty order was the appropriate and proportionate sanction the Committee considered a suspension order. The Committee did consider carefully whether the public interest required a suspension. The Committee did not consider that the Respondent lacked sufficient insight to be able to practise appropriately. The Committee considered that a penalty order was sufficient to protect the public interest and it considered that preventing the Respondent from practising as an architect for a period was unduly punitive.
68. The Committee therefore imposes a penalty order in the sum of £1500. The Committee considers this to be an appropriate amount to reflect the seriousness of the Respondent’s failings.
69. That concludes this determination.