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Mr Russell Elwyn Foster Lewis

THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE

In the matter of
RUSSELL ELWYN FOSTER LEWIS (056162B)

Held as a video conference On
8 and 9 September 2021 ———-
Present

Sadia Zouq (Chair)
David Kann (PCC Architect Member) Rachel Childs (PCC Lay Member)

———–

In this case, ARB is represented by Mr James Lloyd of Kingsley Napley LLP. Mr Lewis has attended and is not legally represented.

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

(1) did not provide any and/or any adequate terms of engagement to the Complainant, contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code;
(2) did not prepare adequate designs and drawings for the purposes of planning.

and that by doing so, he acted in breach of Standards 4.4, 2.1 and 6.1 of the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice 2017 (“the 2017 Code”).

The sanction imposed is a reprimand.

The Allegation

1. An allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct (“UPC”) has been brought by ARB against Russell Lewis (“the Respondent”). ARB has particularised the allegation as follows:

(1) The Respondent did not provide any and/or any adequate terms of engagement to the Complainant, contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code;

(2) The Respondent did not prepare adequate designs and drawings for the purposes of planning.

and that by doing so, he acted in breach of Standards 4.4, 2.1 and 6.1 of the Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice 2017 (“the 2017 Code”).

2. The relevant provisions of the 2017 Code state: –

Standard 4.4

Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code 2017 states that an architect is expected to ensure that they enter into a written agreement with the client which adequately covers a number of matters including the scope of the work, who will be responsible for what and details of fees and/or the method of calculating fees. The architect is expected to enter into this written agreement with the client prior to undertaking any professional work. The full requirements set out in Standard 4.4 require that adequate terms of engagement include details of:

  • the contracting parties;
  • the scope of the work;
  • the fee or method of calculating it;
  • who will be responsible for what;
  • any constraints or limitations on the responsibilities of the parties;
  • the provisions for suspension or termination of the agreement, including any legal rights of cancellation;
  • a statement that you have adequate and appropriate insurance cover as specified by ARB;
  • the existence of any Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes that the contract is subject to and how they might be accessed;
  • that you have a complaints-handling procedure available on request;
  • that you are registered with the Architects Registration Board and that you are subject to this Code.

Standard 2.1

Standard 2 of the Code is headed “Competence”. Standard 2.1 expects an architect to be competent to carry out the professional work they undertake to do.

Standard 6.1

Standard 6 of the Code is headed “Carry out your work safely and conscientiously”. Standard 6.1 of the Code requires an architect to carry out their work with skill and care and in accordance with their terms of engagement.

Background

  1. The Respondent registered with ARB on 13 December 1989. The Respondent is a sole practitioner at Lewis Foster Lewis (LFL) Design Limited. In February 2015, Mr A and the Respondent set up LFL Architects (separate from LFL Design Ltd). They were both partners at LFL Architects.
  2. In November 2015 the Respondent left LFL Architects and worked for another company called Southerndown Properties. From 23 November 2017 the Respondent set up LFL Design.
  3. In 2017, the Complainant was introduced to Mr A of LFL Architects Ltd. Mr A prepared a proposal for planning permission, which included drawings. The design was for a single level one or two bedroom property built into a hill and elevated partly on stilts. Planning permission was granted, on appeal, in March 2019. Mr A provided the Complainant with written terms of engagement. The Complainant began to investigate costs for the works but discovered these were considerably in excess of what he and his wife had expected.
  4. In late April 2019, the Complainant and Respondent met by chance. The Complainant explained the problems regarding costs. The Respondent told the Complainant that he may be able to adapt the existing drawings to make the project viable. The Respondent visited the site with the Complainant in May 2019. The Complainant states that the Respondent said that he could amend Mr A’s existing plans and add a lower ground floor. Further agreement was reached on what the plans would include. The Complainant was advised by the Respondent that the application would need to be submitted by March 2020 to amend the existing permission without a further statutory planning fee. It was agreed that the matter would be submitted to the Local Authority by Christmas 2019.
  5. The Respondent started working on the project with the Complainants in 2019, by which time the Respondent was working under his own company, LFL Design. The Complainant states that he did not receive any contract or terms of engagement from the Respondent.
  6. The Respondent provided an initial set of drawings on 20 June 2019. The Complainant and Respondent met on 23 July 2019 to discuss these drawings. The Complainant requested a number of changes. The Respondent agreed to amend and update the plans, and that further plans, with measurements, would be prepared. On 3 August 2019 the Respondent provided updated drawings. The Complainant states that these drawings were incorrect. The Respondent was due to complete the elevation drawings and provide these on his return from leave in mid-August 2019. On 29 August 2019 the Complainant and Respondent met. The elevation drawings were not provided at this meeting but the previous requests to amend and update plans had been largely prepared.
  7. The Respondent submitted an invoice for his fees on 30 August 2019 via an email to the Complainant. In this email the Respondent stated, “As we agreed my fees for this project will be 8% of the total project cost to take the project from design to completion in accordance with the standard RIBA documents for the appointment of an architect that I will prepare for our next meeting”. The Complainant states that he never received these documents.
  8. The Respondent and Complainant met for a site visit on 15 October 2019. At this meeting they discussed changing the window designs. It was agreed that the Respondent would incorporate these changes into the Computer Aided Design (“CAD”) drawings. These drawings were received by the Complainant on 25 November 2019. The Complainant states that these drawings were the same as those received in early August 2019 and did not reflect the agreed drawings from late August. The Complainant emailed the Respondent setting out the errors in the drawings on the same date.
  9. The Complainant and Respondent next met on 29 November 2019 to discuss the errors in the drawings; the Respondent agreed to amend the drawings. The amended drawings were sent to the Complainant on 13 December 2019 via email. In this email the Respondent stated, “I also enclose an invoice for [sic] my work on this project since my last invoice on 30 August but have discounted my hours by 50% to reflect some of the additional redrafting of the plans and elevations…”. The Complainant states that there were yet more mistakes in the drawings.
  10. The Complainant and Respondent discussed the drawings via telephone on 20 December 2019. The Complainant followed up this conversation with an email the following day setting out his concerns with the drawings. The Respondent replied on 10 January 2021 stating that he had not expected to have to re-draw the drawings in CAD as he thought this would be limited to the plans. The Complainant says this was incorrect and it had been agreed what drawings were required and in what format. The Respondent also stated in this email that the drawings for the planning submission would be finished by 31 January 2020. The Respondent stated that he would be surprised if the second application for planning would not incur a statutory planning fee as the house design was bigger than the original planning submission. The Respondent offered to meet the Complainant the following week.
  11. On 11 January 2020 the Complainant responded to the Respondent’s email of 10 January 2020 stating that he was not happy with the Respondent’s response or explanation regarding his concerns about the inaccurate drawings. He informed the Respondent that he wished to retract all instructions from him to continue work on the project.
  12. Further email correspondence took place between the Respondent and Complainant over the days that followed, leading to the Complainant contacting ARB and RIBA for advice and submitting a formal letter of complaint to the Respondent on 14 January 2020. This was followed by the submission of a formal complaint to the ARB on 16 January 2020.
  13. In his written representations to the ARB in July 2020, the Respondent submitted the following in response to the allegation:
  • The terms of engagement to the Complainant were set out in a letter from LFL Architects, and that as he was a partner at that practice, he would not have to revisit the standard terms of appointment with the Complainant;
  • The Complainant showed him a copy of the terms and conditions letter sent to him by Mr A on LFL Architects Ltd headed paper;
  • He agreed to act under the terms of the original letter from LFL Architects as the Architect on the project;
  • As the application for planning was being revised, he agreed with the Complainant an hourly rate up to planning submission as per email correspondence and invoices;
  • He proceeded diligently with the designs and drawings and was not made aware by the Complainant that he was unhappy with progress, and that at all times he was in regular contact with the Complainant.

Admissions

  1. In the Acknowledgement of Notice of Hearing form dated 11 August 2021 the Respondent admitted particulars 1 and 2. He further admitted that the allegations were capable of amounting to UPC.
  2. At the hearing, the Respondent stated that he did provide the Complainant with terms of engagement. He admitted that the terms of engagement provided were not adequate and contrary to Standard 4.4. of the Architects Code. The Respondent admitted Particular 2.
  3. In light of the admissions above, the Respondent further admitted that this matter amounted to UPC. He was reminded by the Legally Qualified Chair that UPC was a matter for the Committee’s judgement and that it did not necessarily follow that UPC would be found on the admitted particulars.

Preliminary issues

  1. As a preliminary issue, the Committee considered whether to hear references to the Respondent’s private life and health in private. The Chair reminded the parties and Committee of Rule 21, that a hearing of the PCC shall be conducted in public unless, in the interests of justice or for other reason specified in Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the Committee directs that all or part of the hearing shall be conducted in private. It was agreed that parts of the hearing will be conducted in private in order to protect the private life of the Respondent.

Evidence

  1. In reaching its decisions, the Committee carefully considered the live evidence of the Respondent, together with the witness statements of the Complainant and Ms SA (a solicitor at Kingsley Napley LLP), the documentary evidence presented to it in the Report of ARB’s Solicitor and the documents exhibited to it.
  2. The Complainant’s and Ms SA’s evidence was not challenged.
  3. The Respondent provided a number of documents which included his response to ARB’s investigation dated 17 and 22 July 2020, printouts of a series of text message exchanges between the Respondent and Complainant dated between 31 October 2019 and 11 January 2021, a letter dated 17 August 2021 addressed to ARB setting out his response to the charge of UPC, and three positive recent testimonials submitted by the Respondent attesting to the high quality of his work and professionalism.
  4. The Respondent gave evidence. The Committee found the Respondent’s evidence to be measured and credible. He referred to the documentary evidence before the Committee.
  5. The Committee carefully considered the Respondent’s evidence, submissions from the parties and documentation.


Legal Advice

  1. ARB was required to prove the allegations to the civil standard; that it was more likely than not that the events occurred. This was a single unwavering standard of proof, though the more serious an allegation the more cogent the evidence required to prove it. There was no requirement for the Respondent to prove anything.
  2. ARB confirmed that the Respondent had no previous matters and was a man of good character. The Chair advised that the weight, and the extent to which the Respondent’s good character assisted the Committee was a matter for them, having taken into account everything it had heard from the Respondent and what it knew of him.

Findings of Fact

27. The Committee made the following findings of fact.

Particular 1 – Found Proved

    1. The Respondent stated that he provided terms of engagement to the Complainant. He formally admitted that he did not provide any adequate terms of engagement to the Complainant contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
    2. The Committee was referred to the Respondent’s email to the Complainant of 30 August 2019 in which he states that his fees for the project “will be 8% of the total project cost to take the project from design to completion in accordance with the standard RIBA documents for the appointment of an architect”, and that he will prepare these documents for their next meeting. The Complainant states these documents were never received.
    3. The Committee carefully considered the 30 August 2019 email. It noted that the email was sent three months after the Respondent and Complainant’s initial meeting and after two sets of drawings had been prepared. The Committee determined that the email and further correspondence to the Complainant throughout the project did not amount to terms of engagement as required by Standard 4.4. of the 2017 Code. None of the specific requirements of Standard 4.4. were included in the Respondent’s email of 30 August 2019 except for reference to the fee as noted in paragraph 29 above. However, the fee and how it was calculated was not clear and was subsequently varied to an hourly rate charge solely for design work associated with the planning application.
    4. In his evidence to the Committee the Respondent states that the Complainant showed him the documentation from LFL Architects and that he informed the Complainant he would progress the project on the same terms but on an hourly rate until completion of the planning design only. The Committee had sight of the appointment letter dated 2 May 2017 from LFL Architects addressed to the Complainant. It had regard to the evidence of Ms SA and her exhibit of the Architects Register. The Respondent did not challenge the Architects Register. The Register shows that the Respondent’s business address from 23 November 2017 to the present date is LFL Design. At the time Mr A sent the Complainant’s appointment letter, the Respondent was registered as working for Southerndown Properties. The Respondent was appointed by the Complainant in May 2019. His instruction was therefore through LFL Design. The Respondent could not therefore rely on LFL Architects letter of appointment dated 2 May 2017. The Committee accepted the unchallenged evidence of the Complainant who states that he did not receive any contract or terms of engagement from the Respondent either before or after their initial meeting of 7 May 2019.
    5. In all the circumstances, the Committee finds that the Respondent did not provide adequate terms of engagement. Further, the Committee determined that the Respondent acted in breach of Standard 4.4 of the 2017 Code. The terms of the Code are clear. The Respondent had a duty to provide full and clear terms of engagement in writing at the outset of the project.
    6. The Committee therefore finds the facts alleged in Particular 1 proved in so far as the Respondent did not provide adequate terms of engagement to the Complainant contrary to Standard 4.4.

Particular 2 – Found Proved

  1. The Respondent having admitted the facts alleged, the Committee finds the facts proved.
  2. In his evidence to the Committee the Respondent stated that he was trying to reach agreement with the Complainant regarding elevations and windows and could not submit the drawings for planning as it was unclear where the boundary lay. Until the Complainant had resolved the boundary layout with his neighbour, the planning submission would remain on hold. In response to questions from ARB’s case presenter, the Respondent stated that the Complainant changed his mind regarding the designs and drawings “on more than one occasion”. The Respondent kept track of these changes by marking the drawings during meetings and telephone conversations, as this was his usual practice for recording client requests which continues to the present day.
  3. The Committee considered this allegation very carefully. It had regard to the Complainant’s unchallenged witness statement and text message screenshot exhibits. The Complainant stated that drawings received on 3 August 2019, 25 November 2019 and 13 December 2019 contained errors and/or failed to incorporate changes requested and agreed by the Respondent during meetings and in correspondence. Drawings provided on 29 August 2019 were satisfactory to the Complainant but did not contain the elevations.
  4. The Committee noted text message exchanges between the Complainant’s wife and the Respondent on 31 October 2019 in which the Respondent said he had redrafted the elevations and incorporated new window designs and would send these for approval together with the new site plan. The Respondent stated in his text that once the Complainants were happy with these he would “get Paul to so [sic] the final CAD drawings. My drawings will be the planning submission”. In a text message dated 18 November 2019, following the Complainant’s wife chasing the Respondent for the drawings, the Respondent stated “Elevations are done just need to reconfigure plans sections and site plan after out setting. I want to issue you a final set incorporating all the revisions to doors, windows with larger garage and new levels…”.
  5. The drawings were sent to the Complainant on 25 November 2019. The Complainant states the plan drawings were similar to those sent in early August and contained several errors which he highlighted in a follow up email to the Respondent on 25 November 2019. Following a meeting with the Respondent in late November, the Respondent agreed to rectify the errors. The amended drawings were sent to the Complainant on 13 December 2019. The Complainant states that he was “devastated at the elevations” and the drawings contained more mistakes.
  6. The Committee noted the Complainant’s emails to the Respondent dated 25 November 2019 and 21 December 2019 in which he set out his concerns in relation to the amended drawings. The Committee noted that despite changes being discussed with the Complainant during meetings and in correspondence, drawings produced by the Respondent contained multiple errors and failed to incorporate changes requested on more than one occasion.
  7. The Committee was satisfied that the Respondent did not prepare adequate designs and drawings for the purposes of planning. Accordingly, the Committee finds the facts alleged in particular 2 proved.

Findings on allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct

  1. Having found the above facts proved, the Committee went on to consider whether the Respondent’s conduct amounted to UPC. UPC was a matter of judgment for the Committee. UPC is defined as conduct that fell short of the standard required of a registered person. The Committee had regard to Standards 2.1, 4.4 and 6.1 of the 2017 Code. The Committee noted that the Respondent had accepted that the allegation was capable of amounting to UPC.
  2. The Committee carefully considered all the evidence presented to it, all submissions made and accepted the advice from the Legally Qualified Chair. The Committee recognised that not every shortcoming on the part of an architect, nor failure to comply with the provisions of the Code, necessarily resulted in a finding of UPC. However, a failure to follow the guidance of the Code, whether in one’s professional or private life, was a factor that could be taken into account should it be necessary to examine the conduct of an architect.
  3. The Committee recognised that any failing should be serious. The Committee had borne in mind the case of Spencer v General Osteopathic Council [2012] EWHC 3147 (Admin) and accepted 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” (The Queen on the Application of Dr Malcolm Noel Calhaem –v- General Medical Council [2007] EWHC 2606 (Admin).
  4. Misconduct, which is akin to UPC, was defined in the case of Roylance v GMC [2000] 1 AC 311 as, “a word of general effect, involving some act or omission which falls short of what would be proper in the circumstances. The standard of propriety may often be found by reference to the rules and standards ordinarily required to be followed by a medical practitioner in the particular circumstances”. The Committee also recognised that any failing must be serious.
  5. The Committee has already found that the Respondent acted in breach of Standard 4.4. of the 2017 Code. The Respondent had a duty to provide full and clear terms of engagement in writing at the outset of the project. A written agreement and terms of engagement are necessary to protect both the client and architect in the event of a dispute and remedy. Terms of engagement are essential to prevent confusion about the extent and scope of the service to be provided by the architect.
  6. A failure to provide adequate terms of engagement in this case was serious because it led to misunderstandings and confusion about important matters including timescales and scope. A dispute had also arisen between the Complainant and Respondent regarding the payment of the Respondent’s second invoice, thereby further highlighting the difficulty of resolving matters in the absence of any adequate terms of engagement.
  7. The Committee considered that the inadequate designs and drawings attracted a degree of opprobrium. As an architect, the Respondent ought to have been able to produce drawings that accurately reflected the Complainant’s wishes and could be used for the purposes of planning. Despite changes being discussed with the Respondent in meetings and correspondence, the amended drawings contained multiple errors on more than one occasion, and could not be used by the Complainant for submission for planning permission.
  8. The Committee determined that the Respondent did not carry out his professional work on the Complainant’s project conscientiously. He did not apply sufficient skill or care as required by Standard 6.1. The final set of drawings produced by the Respondent for submission to planning on 13 December 2019 were not in accordance with that requested or expected by the Complainant throughout the project.
  9. The Committee considered that this was a serious failing by the Respondent which was repeated over a period of months. The Committee noted that the Respondent suggested that the Complainant kept changing his mind, and that he was constrained by the lack of clarity of the boundary layout with the Complainant’s neighbour. However, the Committee did not accept this was a legitimate reason for the Respondent to not prepare adequate designs and drawings for the purposes of planning. The repeated errors and failure to incorporate amendments by the Respondent ultimately led the Complainant to instruct another architect to produce accurate drawings, thereby incurring further time and costs on his project.
  10. The Respondent in his evidence accepted that he was not able to give the project the attention and time that it required due to circumstances in his personal life. In his oral evidence he stated that he should have “got someone else” to take the project forward as he was having difficulty in finding the time to finalise the drawings in autumn 2019. The Committee agreed that events in the Respondent’s personal life had impacted adversely on his work on the project.
  11. The Committee did not find the Respondent’s conduct breached Standard 2.1 of the Code. The Committee considered the mischief envisaged by Standard 2.1 was where an architect undertakes professional work that they are not competent to carry out to the required standard. The Committee had regard to the drawings produced at the end of August 2019 by the Respondent. The Complainant stated that these drawings were “professional” and “pretty much as we had asked”. The Complainant states further in his witness statement regarding the impact of the matter upon him that the “Respondent had not listened and recalled instructions properly. He had completely muddled events, drawings and timelines”. The Committee considered the failure to prepare acceptable and adequate designs and drawings occurred due to the Respondent’s lack of attention to the details of the discussions he had had with the Complainant throughout the project, as opposed to his competency to carry out professional work.
  12. 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 Respondent and the profession generally. They represent a standard of conduct falling significantly and materially below the standard expected of a registered architect.
  13. 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.
  14. Members of the public and the profession would be concerned that an architect had undertaken work without having any or any adequate terms of engagement in place, and further, that an architect was unable to produce adequate designs and drawings for submission to planning despite the drawings having been discussed and amendments agreed with his clients over a period of months.
  15. The Committee considered that the Respondent’s conduct adversely impacts on the reputation of the profession and in particular the Complainant’s view of the professionalism of the Respondent. The concerns have impacted on the Complainant, and he has suffered expense and inconvenience to produce all the necessary drawings for the planning application to be submitted in an adequate and timely fashion.
  16. The Committee therefore concluded the Respondent’s conduct amounted to UPC on each particular as set out above.

Decision on sanction

Respondent’s Evidence

  1. The Respondent gave evidence. He stated that he admitted his shortcomings and UPC on both counts and has shown insight. During cross examination at the Facts and UPC stage, the Respondent had told the Committee that the failure to provide adequate terms of engagement was a one-off occurrence as the lines had become blurred in view of his previous employment with LFL Architects. He stated that this will not happen again.
  2. In relation to particular 2 he outlined his personal circumstances that had prevented him from dealing fully with the Complainant’s concerns and he expressed some regret for the issues that had arisen. The Respondent stated that the Complainant first expressed his dissatisfaction of his drawings and designs on 25 November 2019. He accepted that “there was some muddling” but felt that he had genuinely tried to address the Complainant’s concerns, even as late as January 2020 after the Complainant had retracted his instructions. The Respondent stated that he “wouldn’t do this again” and “I acknowledge my failing”.
  3. In response to Committee questions the Respondent acknowledged the distress he caused to the Complainant and felt that he had acknowledged this at the outset in January 2020 via correspondence where he tried to set matters right. He recognised, however, that he was not providing the service expected of an architect and how his conduct would be perceived to the wider public and architect profession.

ARB Submissions

  1. Mr Lloyd set out ARB’s submissions in relation to sanction and drew the Committee’s attention to ARB’s Sanctions Guidance. Mr Lloyd submitted that the Committee should have regard to the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors when assessing the level of sanction and reminded the Committee of the purpose of sanction.
  2. In terms of aggravating and mitigating features Mr Lloyd submitted that it was a matter for the Committee whether the Respondent’s early admissions were illustrative of insight and therefore his conduct was less likely to be repeated. He stated that the Respondent had provided evidence in relation to personal mitigation and suggested this may go some way to explaining how and why the conduct occurred. However, Mr Lloyd submitted that conduct that was said to have occurred over a period of time may be considered as an aggravating feature. Mr Lloyd confirmed that the Respondent had no previous regulatory history with ARB.
  3. 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 the Board, 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 Respondent’s interests, ARB’s Sanctions Guidance and the need to act proportionately. It has taken into account any aggravating and mitigating factors in this case, and it has exercised its own independent judgement.
  4. The Committee identified the following mitigating factors:
  • The Respondent has a long and unblemished career spanning 32 years;
  • The Respondent has had some personal difficulties which impacted on his ability to respond to the Complainant’s concerns regarding the designs and drawings in anadequate and timely fashion;
  • The personal difficulties were for a limited short duration and impacted his ability toprovide adequate designs and drawings in an otherwise previously unblemished career;
  • The failure to provide adequate terms of engagement was a one-off isolated occurrence;
  • There was a genuine attempt to resolve the concerns raised with the Complainant and tomaintain cordial relations;
  • The Respondent has provided oral evidence of how he would prevent a recurrence of theconduct.
  1. The Committee has identified the following aggravating factors:
  • The Respondent’s conduct resulted in significant emotional impact to the Complainant;
  • The Complainant suffered a financial loss as he instructed another architect to producethe necessary drawings for planning.
  1. Taking into account the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and looking at all the facts in the round, the Committee considered the risk of repetition was low given the Respondent’s insight and appreciation of the issues. In his evidence to the Committee at the Facts and UPC stage the Respondent stated that he could see the Complainant’s “perspective as a member of the public”. The Committee had regard to the measures the Respondent has now put in place in order to prevent a risk of recurrence. This included seeking advice from a business adviser as a sole practitioner who has advised him on alternative ways of managing his practice. The Respondent emphasised during his evidence that the conduct occurred during a difficult and very stressful period in his life.
  2. The Committee had regard to the three testimonials submitted on the Respondent’s behalf. It noted that the reference from Mr B stated that he had worked with the Respondent for over 25 years in his capacity as the Principal Architect on numerous projects. Mr B spoke of the Respondent’s professionalism as an architect and his positive personal qualities. Mr C worked with the Respondent on a project between 2017 and 2020, and comments positively on his excellent standard of practice and responsiveness. Mr D worked with the Respondent since mid-2019 for an extension, loft conversion and structural works on his home. Mr D states that the Respondent has been diligent and that the build has been a resounding success. In view of the length of time the referees have known and worked with the Respondent in his role as architect, the Committee attached significant weight to the contents of the testimonials.
  3. 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. Having done so, the Committee 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.
  4. The Committee has balanced the Respondent’s own interests with those of the profession and the public and has borne in mind the need to act proportionately.
  5. The Committee considered the matters found proved were serious to the extent that the conduct diminished both the Respondent’s reputation, and that of the profession generally. The public would expect an architect to provide adequate terms of engagement and adequate drawings and designs for planning.
  6. The Committee first considered whether to impose a reprimand. The Committee considered that such a sanction was both appropriate and proportionate for the following reasons: the low risk of repetition, the Respondent’s insight and remedial steps taken, the Respondent’s acknowledgment of the distress caused to the Complainant and his conduct’s impact on the wider public and architect profession, and the Respondent’s previous unblemished and long career history. The Committee had regard to the positive testimonials and considered that the facts found proved and UPC was not characteristic of the Respondent’s working practice as an architect.
  7. The Committee next considered a penalty order but determined that such a sanction would be disproportionate and punitive given the suitability of a reprimand. A reprimand was therefore sufficient to address the public interest and uphold the proper standards of conduct and behaviour.
  8. That concludes this determination.