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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.

On 28 July 2020, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) suspended Mr Dean Smith of EASTWEST Architecture, London from the Architects Register for two years following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).

In June 2019, the Architects Registration Board (ARB) received complaints from two former clients who stated they had received design and build services from Mr Smith’s architecture practice, whilst another company, of which he was also director, was acting as contractor. An investigation into a separate complaint made by a former employee also found that two Employment Tribunal awards made in favour of former employees remained outstanding.

ARB further considered evidence submitted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which identified a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and breaches of Regulations 13 and 15 of the Construction (Design and management) Regulations 2015 at one of the properties. It was alleged that Mr Smith did not appropriately manage conflicts of interest contrary to Standard 1.3 of the Architects Code, and that he failed to ensure work carried out at one of the properties was in accordance with Health and Safety Regulations, contrary to Standards 2.1 and 6.1 of the Code. It was further alleged he acted in breach of Standard 9.2 of the Code in that he failed to pay financial orders resulting from Employment Tribunals against both his architecture and construction companies, and failed to notify ARB’s Registrar of the judgments within 28 days.

At the start of the hearing, Mr Smith accepted one of the allegations relating to a conflict of interest, meaning he did not receive informed consent from his clients. He denied the other allegations relating to a conflict of interest and he further denied the allegation regarding the alleged breaches of Health and Safety Regulations.

Mr Smith admitted that he failed to pay two employees money they were owed from the two Employment Tribunal judgments. Mr Smith stated that his failure to notify ARB of the judgements was an oversight on his part.

The PCC found all of the allegations proved and stated that they individually and cumulatively amounted to UPC

When considering the sanction, the PCC took into account that Mr Smith had no previous adverse regulatory findings and had made some admissions. However, it also noted that the failings covered a wide breadth of shortcomings, and that his failings in respect of health and safety had the potential to cause serious injury. In addition, he had failed to satisfy court judgements made against him. In relation to the disputed allegations, there was no evidence that Mr Smith had any significant insight into his failings, and the impact they had on others or on the reputation of the profession.

It therefore concluded a maximum suspension from the Register of two years would be the appropriate sanction. While suspended from the Register Mr Smith is not permitted to use the title ‘architect’ in business or practice.

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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