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.
A hearing of ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) concluded on 6 February 2020 with the erasure from the Architects Register of Mr Andrew Guy of BESPRAK Architecture + Interiors in Havant, Hampshire (registration number 072315K) following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC). As he is no longer on the Register, Mr Guy is no longer able to legally practise as an architect in the UK.
The allegations against Mr Guy were that he had posted false reviews under pseudonym(s) in relation to multiple businesses and in doing so had acted dishonestly and/or without integrity. Mr Guy neither attended the hearing nor was he represented, but denied the allegations in his written responses to ARB. In addition to documentary evidence, the PCC heard that eight complainants supported the allegations against Mr Guy and heard the live evidence of six.
Mr Guy was the common link and only connection between the otherwise unconnected businesses for which the negative reviews had been written. Three of those businesses were architectural practices, three were property letting businesses, and two were businesses run by individuals with whom Mr Guy had previously had a personal relationship. The negative postings continued over a period of approximately 10 months and only stopped when he was notified of possible action being taken against him.
The PCC found all the facts proven. Although the matters did not occur in the course of Mr Guy’s architectural practice, the PCC considered that the deliberate and dishonest posting of false reviews across a range of businesses would be considered deplorable by both fellow members of the profession and members of the public. His conduct represented a serious departure from the standard expected of a registered architect and amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
When considering sanction, the PCC noted that while Mr Guy had no previous adverse regulatory findings and had removed some of the posts following receipt of a ‘cease and desist’ letter, his dishonesty was deliberate, repeated and intended to cause reputational harm. He had acted in a way that was menacing and intimidatory, and lacked any insight in relation to the impact of his actions. In addition to this, Mr Guy had taken active steps to avoid the ARB investigation and frustrate the regulatory process.
The PCC concluded that the protection of the public and the reputation of the profession required Mr Guy’s name to be erased from the Architects Register.
A copy of the decision can be found here.
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.
For further information, please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) on 020 7580 5861 or by email at KateH@arb.org.uk.