Mrs Shelley Lafferty
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
SHELLEY LAFFERTY (070890I)
Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
David Kann (PCC Architect Member)
Martin Pike (PCC Lay Member)
In respect of the charges against Shelley Lafferty (“the Registered Person”):
The Registered Person:
- accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee making a disciplinary order against her in the terms set out below; and
- confirms that she has been offered the opportunity to appear before a Hearing Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee to present her case, but has foregone her right to do so.
The Architects Registration Board accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Professional Conduct Committee making a disciplinary order against the Registered Person in the terms set out below.
An allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct has been brought by the ARB against the Registered Person. The ARB has particularised the allegation as follows:
- The Registered Person did not provide adequate terms of engagement contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
Statement of agreed facts:
- The Registered Person is a registered architect and Director and Head of Architecture at Stuart James Associates.
- AD (“the Referrer”) and her daughter SD, contacted Stuart James Associates in respect of a project concerning a property purchased by SD in July 2020 (“the Property”). SD’s initial contact was with CO, Managing Director at Stuart James Architects (“SJA”). CO is not a registered architect.
- SD wanted to carry out internal works to the Property, a lower ground flat in a Grade II listed building. She wanted to convert the Property from a one bedroom property to a two bedroom property, with the potential addition of a small extension to accommodate an en-suite bathroom. The Property had severe damp issues upon purchase.
- On 14 July 2020 CO sent an initial letter of appointment with separate terms of engagement. The Registered Person was confirmed to be the architect managing the project. The appointment letter stated that Heritage Statements might be required with the application and if so they would be charged as a disbursement. SD signed and returned the letter confirming at that stage she only wished to appoint SJA for stages 1a and 1b. Stage 1a was to visit the Property and review potential damp proofing solutions and Stage 1b was to prepare existing and proposed option layouts.
- The Registered Person attended the Property on 17 July 2020 to carry out a measured survey. Prior to instruction of the Registered Person and SJA, the Referrer and SD had commenced investigations into the damp issues. They had received an initial damp report and a second damp report was received on 17 July 2020. On 22 July 2020 the Referrer sent the damp report to the Registered Person.
- On 23 July 2020 the Registered Person emailed SD to provide draft existing drawings. When sending those drawings, the Registered Person advised that an SJA Heritage Specialist would prepare a supporting Heritage Statement. On 24 July 2020 the Registered Person sent an updated letter of appointment/scope of services. This referred to the need for a Heritage Statement and the additional costs associated with this.
- The Referrer and SD were concerned about the additional costs that were going to be incurred. On 27 July 2020 SD emailed the Registered Person terminating her services and instructing her to cease work immediately.
- On 2 December 2020 the Referrer made a complaint to the ARB.
- The Registered Person accepts that she did not provide adequate written terms of engagement contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code (2017). Whilst she did not send the initial terms of engagement, the Registered Person was the architect responsible for the project and she sent the second terms of engagement letter.
- The Registered Person accepts that she had a professional obligation to provide her client with full and adequate terms of engagement that complied with the requirements of Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code: Standards of Professional Conduct and Practice (2017). The Registered Person accepts that the engagement letters did not adequately set out who would be responsible for what, any constraints or limitations on the responsibilities of the parties, did not provide details of provision for suspension/termination of the agreement, details of insurance, the existence of any Alternative Dispute Resolution Schemes or confirmation that the Registered Person is registered with the ARB and subject to the Code. Whilst the letters sent did set out fees and scope of the work, the ARB submits that these were inadequately described. The Respondent accepts that all of this information ought to have been provided at the outset in writing in accordance with the requirements of the Architects Code: Standards of Professional Conduct and Practice (2017).
Statement as to unacceptable professional conduct
- In light of the admission above, the Registered Person admits that her conduct amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
- In respect of Standard 4.4, setting out compliant terms of engagement in writing is essential for both the architect and the client to understand their respective rights, responsibilities and obligations. The terms of the Code are clear and the Registered Person has a duty, as a registered architect, to be aware of and adhere to the Code.
- The Registered Person accepts that it was necessary for her to provide adequate written terms of engagement for the project, as required under standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. A failure to provide adequate terms is serious because, as in this case, it can lead to the potential for misunderstanding and confusion about important matters such as fees. The Registered Person accepts that without adequate written terms of engagement, it can be difficult to resolve matters without clarity as to the important matters set out in the Code.
- The Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee, with the consent of the parties and having taken account of its responsibilities to protect the public and maintain the reputation of the profession, makes the following disciplinary order.
- In all of the circumstances, the Registered Person agrees to a disciplinary order of a reprimand.
- The Registered Person has no previous disciplinary history. She has engaged in the regulatory process and has admitted the factual allegation. She has also admitted that this amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
- The admitted allegation has the potential to diminish both the Registered Person’s reputation and that of the profession generally and therefore the parties agree that the Registered Person’s conduct is sufficiently serious to require the imposition of a disciplinary order. In light of the admissions and low risk of repetition, the parties agree that a reprimand is an appropriate and proportionate disciplinary order to impose.
- That concludes this determination.