Ms Kathleen Elizabeth Hines
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
Ms Kathleen Elizabeth Hines (048681G)
Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
Deborah Kirk (PCC Architect Member)
Rachel Childs (PCC Lay Member)
In respect of the charge against Kathleen Elizabeth Hines (“the Respondent”):
- 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;
- confirms that she has been offered the opportunity to appear before a Hearing Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee to present her case but does not wish to do so.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Professional Conduct Committee making an Order against the Respondent in the terms set out below:
An allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct has been brought by the ARB against the Respondent. The ARB has particularised the allegation as follows:
1. The Respondent did not provide adequate terms of engagement to the Complainant contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code
Statement of agreed facts
- The Respondent is a registered architect and Director at Solstice Associates Ltd.
- In May 2015 the Complainant appointed an Architect, Mr. MC in respect of works to be carried out on the basement of her property, 16 The Mount (“the Property”). The Complainant wished to extend the basement to have an open plan space housing a kitchen, utility area, sitting area, pantry, cloakroom and a separate self-contained room with an en-suite bathroom. A planning application for this and other works was submitted and permission was granted on 16 July 2015.
- The Complainant did not instruct a contractor to undertake the necessary works before the planning permission expired on 17 July 2018. Evolution MK Ltd (“the Contractor”) was later selected as the Contractor by the Complainant.
- The Contractor advised the Complainant that they would need to re-submit the planning application as the previous permission had lapsed. The Complainant contacted MC but he was not will in g to assist further without payment. The Complainant then contacted the Respondent upon the recommendation of the Contractor. The Respondent made an agreement by email to submit a new planning application to the Council for an agreed lump sum of £100, which would be waived, if an appointment followed to carry out detailed design and building control submission. It was therefore waived. Planning permission was granted on 3 June 2019. This work was carried out prior to the Respondent’s terms of engagement letter of 18 June 2019. No fee was invoiced by the Respondent.
- On 18 June 2019 the Respondent provided details of the proposed work and costs to the Complainant in writing in a letter. The letter also confirmed that Solstice Architects held professional indemnity insurance. On 6 July 2019 the Complainant confirmed via email that she agreed to the Respondent’s proposals.
- The Complainant entered into a JCT Contract with the Contractor on 9 June 2019 and work commenced at the Property in July 2019. The Respondent was instructed to make a Building Regulations Application after advising that this was necessary.
- In August 2019, the Respondent submitted an application for a non-material amendment to the planning permission in relation to revisions to windows and the balcony. That application was granted. The Complainant then decided that she wanted to extend the front entrance of the Property. An application was prepared and submitted for permission in August 2019. Planning permission was granted on 18 December 2019.
- Issues arose during the works which led to a breakdown in the relationship betweenthe Complainant and the Contractor. The Contractor stopped working on the project in April 2020. They returned to site in June 2020 but issues continued with the works not progressing as the Complainant expected. By August 2020 the relationship between the Complainant and Contractor had broken down due to work issues and in relation to payments to the Contractor. The Contractor left the site in August 2020 and did not return.
- The Respondent sent a number of invoices throughout the project. The first two invoices were sent on 28 August 2019. The Complainant paid these invoices in September 2019.
- A further invoice was submitted on 7 April 2020. After the Complainant queried the amount, the Respondent explained that this related to the increased scope of the work. The Complainant paid this invoice.
- A further invoice was submitted on 4 September 2020 and then a revised invoice on 10 September 2020.
- On 4 September 2020 the Respondent emailed the Complainant to advise that their account with the Contractor was overdue for payment. She advised that the sum of £3,644.81 was due to the Contractor. The Complainant paid this sum. A further £2,000 plus VAT was however held back as the Complainant was concerned that they had overpaid the Contractor.
- On 23 September 2020 issues were also raised about the Respondent’s fees and a query as to the amount to be paid to her, when the Complainant’s husband said that the works to the front of the Property had never been included in the original contract. The Respondent sent an email to the Complainant stating that her fee proposal was clear, that her fee was 7.5% of the contract value, and that their payment of a previous invoice showed acceptance of the 7.5% fee being applicable to the full contract sum. On 27 September 2020 the Complainant sought a copy of all documentation on the project from the Respondent. The Complainant asked the Respondent to reduce her invoice to reflect the works done. The Respondent replied that she had only invoiced for works done. The invoice was never paid by the Complainant.
- On 27 October 2020 the Complainant wrote to the Respondent again and noted that she remained of the view that the Respondent had not performed all the services for which she was claiming fees against. She noted they had no drawings or correspondence informing them that submissions were made for Building Regulation Approval and further that there had been a lack of written communication and advice on the project. The Complainant stated that she was dissatisfied with the Respondent’s service during Stage 5 and noted this stage would not be completed, nor would Stage 6. The Complainant said that she expected a reduction in the Respondent’s fee as a result.
- On 28 October 2020 the Respondent responded to the Complainant. She did not accept that she had not provided Building Control documentation. She noted that her fee on the quotation letter from June 2019 listed all the services included and that no separate or additional fee was charged for using the drawings, specification for a tender process, nor any reduction offered if the tender process was not activated. She said that only payment of Stage 4 fees had been requested. She said Stage 5 fees were only applicable to works which had progressed to practical completion and Stage 6 fees would not be invoiced. She advised that there was an outstanding sum due to her of £3,153.
- The Complainant replied to the Respondent on 4 November 2020 and stated that she had reviewed all the email correspondence and did not have the Building Control documentation. The Respondent replied the same day advising that final approval from Building Control is not issued until the works had been completed, inspected, and approved, but that all other documentation and approvals had been provided.
- The Complainant remained dissatisfied with the position and made a complaint to the ARB on 1 December 2020.
- The Respondent accepts that she did not provide adequate terms of engagement at the outset of the contract or throughout. The Respondent admits that she had a professional obligation to provide the Complainants with full and adequate terms of engagement.
- The Respondent accepts that her letter of 18 June 2019 was not compliant with the requirements of Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code: Standards of Professional Conduct and Practice (2017). The Respondent accepts that the correspondence was sent in June 2019, some three to four months after the Respondent had completed initial work regarding the planning application. The Respondent accepts that the letter of 18 June 2019 did not set out the Respondent’s role and the limitations of her role. In addition, the letter referenced tendering services which were not to be provided as by the time the letter was sent the Complainant had already entered into a JCT Contract. The Respondent accepts that the letter did not provide details of provision for suspension/termination of the agreement. 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 Respondent further admits that this matter amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
- 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 Respondent accepts that her terms of engagement were inadequate.
- The Respondent 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 mean that if issues arise later in the process then it may be more difficult to resolve matters without clarity as to important matters such as costs. The Respondent accepts that setting out full and accurate terms of engagement in writing prior to undertaking professional work is essential for both the architect and their client in order that the parties are aware of their respective rights and obligations.
- 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 Respondent agrees to a disciplinary order of a reprimand.
- The Respondent 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 Respondent’s reputation and that of the profession generally and therefore the parties agree that the Respondent’s conduct is sufficiently serious to require the imposition of a disciplinary order. In light of the low risk of repetition, the parties agree that a reprimand is an appropriate and proportionate disciplinary order to impose.