Guidance for the Investigations Panel on instructing an Expert Advisor
The Expert Advisor (EA) is a person instructed by the Registrar to provide expert advice considered relevant to any investigation. They have a duty to be independent, objective and unbiased in their evidence. Their role is not to act as an advocate for either the architect or referrer.
Rule 9 of the Investigations Rules states that the Investigations Panel (IP) may give directions to the Registrar for instructions to be given on its behalf to an EA. Rule 9 states:
If the Investigations Panel considers that investigation or advice, additional to that sought under rule 6, is required it shall give directions to this effect to the Registrar including, where appropriate, for instructions to be given on its behalf to an Inquirer or an Expert Advisor.
When to appoint an Expert Advisor
During the course of an investigation a matter may arise which is beyond the expertise of the IP. For example, there may be cases in which issues turn on particular points of technical complexity, including the role of professionals other than architects. In other cases issues may arise which are not related to the field of architecture but are highly relevant to the case (for example, issues relating to information technology or insolvency.) In such cases the assistance of an EA may be required.
The IP should be mindful that the use of EAs can significantly increase costs and time taken to conclude investigations. For these reasons EAs should only be used where it is necessary in order for a decision on a case to answer to be reached.
The role of the Expert Advisor
Upon instruction, the EA will consider the facts in the case and will provide a report outlining their professional view. The EA will consider all material evidence when reaching that view, including any evidence which conflicts with their professional opinion (for example, the view of another professional or expert). The EA will comment on such evidence within the report.
The EA will make clear when a question or issue is outside of their expertise and where they are not able to reach a definitive opinion, for example, because there is insufficient evidence.
Generally it is not appropriate for an EA to express a view on whether conduct amounts to a disciplinary offence.
In the course of its instructions the EA may be required to:
- Carry out a site visit;
- Inspect papers or records in situ;
- Interview parties;
- Advise whether additional expertise is required;
- Submit a report on their findings.
If, after producing a report, the EA’s view changes on any material matter, such a change of view will be communicated to ARB without delay. ARB will make the IP (or Professional Conduct Committee where appropriate) aware as soon as possible.
A copy of the EA’s report will be made available to the architect (and referrer where appropriate), and the IP will allow them to comment on it as it deems appropriate.
Where a case to answer is found, the EA may also be required to present their findings to the Professional Conduct Committee.
Instructing an expert
If the IP determines that the advice of an EA is required, the Chair of the IP will contact the Investigations Officer (IO) in writing, outlining the reason for the instruction and the nature of the advice sought.
The IO will identify and instruct an appropriate EA. When identifying an appropriate EA the IO will attempt to identify a professional in the appropriate field who is experienced in providing expert evidence. Regulated professionals and those registered with professional bodies will be used where possible.
Once satisfied with the choice of EA, the IO will issue the EA with instructions on behalf of the IP, and the appropriate format for providing their advice. The instructions will also ask the EA to provide details of any other serious matters that come to light in the course of their instruction, even if they were not included in the initial brief. ARB will confirm expected timescales with the EA at the point of instruction.