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Serious concerns about architects are rare. On the limited occasions they do occur, as the UK regulator we are here to ensure standards, and therefore trust, in the profession is maintained. We hope the information published about conduct and competence decisions provides useful learning points for others.

Mr Paul Karlsson of PSK Cheltenham Ltd, Gloucestershire has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC) following a hearing of ARB’s independent Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) held 7-9 August 2020.

Mr Karlsson faced allegations from two former clients and ARB. Mr Karlsson attended the hearing but chose not to be legally represented. Prior to the hearing, he admitted to allegations that he had failed to issue one of his former clients with adequate terms of engagement and failed to adequately deal with their complaint. He also admitted he had failed to co-operate with ARB’s investigation into his conduct.

The PCC found that the allegations from the first client concerning failure to issue the Complainant with adequate terms of engagement, failure to deal adequately, or at all, with a complaint, failure to adequately, or at all, supervise the work of those carrying out work on behalf of PSK Architect were not proved on the facts.

The PCC however concluded that the matters admitted were sufficiently serious to amount to unacceptable professional conduct. Providing adequate terms of engagement is an essential requirement to provide certainty to a client, and refusing to deal with a complaint undermines confidence in the profession. Such a failure was aggravated by frustrating ARB in carrying out its statutory function. Mr Karlsson’s failings diminished both his reputation and that of the profession generally. In considering its sanction, the PCC acknowledged Mr Karlsson had made some admissions prior to and at the commencement of the hearing, but noted he had demonstrated only limited insight into his failings. The PCC therefore concluded a penalty order of £1,500 would be an appropriate and proportionate sanction.

A copy of the decision can be found here.

—ENDS—

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Notes for Editors

• The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.

Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the UK qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects

• ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.

• The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The PCC determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence.

Where a guilty finding is made, the PCC will consider whether to make a disciplinary order, which means:
– a reprimand
– a penalty order
– a suspension order (to a maximum of 2 years); or
– an erasure order

• Money raised by fines imposed by the Professional Conduct Committee is paid to HM Treasury.

• ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.

For further information please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) by email at media@arb.or.uk or 020 7580 5861.

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