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 18 June 2020 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued Mr Toyin Adetola Oduse of SE2 Creative Ltd, London with a penalty order of £2,000 following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).
In January 2017, Mr Oduse had been instructed on a fixed price contract to build an extension to his client’s family home, based on another architect’s planning application and design, which was to take an estimated four months to complete. It was later agreed there would be an extra payment for a larger extension, the changes not having planning consent. The client’s neighbours objected after work began in January 2017 and in March 2017 a Council planning investigations officer later conducted a site visit. In April 2017, Mr Oduse submitted a planning application to regularise the position and work continued until it was subsequently refused in July 2017.
In December 2017 an appeal (not submitted by Mr Oduse) was also refused. A new planning application, submitted by the original architect, was approved in December 2018 and Mr Oduse was asked to return to finish the work. By September 2019, the work was not finished and the client had paid £44,950 to Mr Oduse against a fixed price of £35,000 (plus £2,400 for the larger extension).
At this time, the client complained to ARB. It was alleged that Mr Oduse did not provide his client with adequate advice in relation to planning, and that he failed to deliver a professional service to his client without undue delay, contrary to Standards 2.1 and 6.2 of the Architects Code.
The PCC found both the allegations proved. It stated that, whatever his involvement in the project, Mr Oduse had a professional obligation to spell out the risk to his client of building without planning consent, and that to rely on a contractual omission of obligation was unprofessional.
The PCC highlighted a series of delays throughout the project, most notably from December 2017 – October 2019. It took letters from a solicitor before the architect returned to site in June 2019, and work had otherwise stopped altogether in July 2017. The client was forced to accept the architect would not return to complete the work. At the time, Mr Oduse accepted no responsibility for the difficult and costly situation the client had suffered for 3 years, to the extent of blaming the client and accusing him of being untruthful.
When considering sanction, the PCC took into account that Mr Oduse had no previous adverse regulatory findings in a lengthy career. It noted that, following the decision, Mr Oduse accepted he had fallen short of his professional obligations, apologised and stated he had learned a lot from the hearing. Nevertheless, the PCC recognised the architect had little or no insight until he had read the decision. Paying careful regard to the Sanctions Guidance, the PCC concluded a penalty order of £2,000 was the appropriate sanction.
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.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7580 5861.