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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 27 November 2020 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued a reprimand to Mr Philip Syborn following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).

Mr Syborn was appointed to assist with concept and planning drawings for the submission of a pre-planning application to redesign the top floor of his client’s property and the adjoining disused garage in London.

It was alleged that Mr Syborn did not enter into a written agreement with his client which adequately covered the terms of engagement, contrary to standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. This allegation was admitted by Mr Syborn at the outset of the hearing. It was also alleged that he failed to carry out the agreed works within a reasonable time period and that he failed to effectively communicate with his client. Both of these latter allegations were denied.

The PCC found the allegation in relation to the failure to issue adequate terms and the failure to effectively communicate with his client proven, and that these failings were serious enough to amount to UPC. The PCC noted that it is the Architect’s responsibility to ensure that the terms of engagement used are compliant with the requirements of the Code. In this case, the PCC was satisfied that Mr Syborn had not fully complied with those requirements. The PCC also noted that Mr Syborn failed to adequately respond to a series of emails from his client and as a result he failed to effectively communicate with his client. They did not however find that Mr Syborn had failed to carry out his work without undue delay.

The PCC noted that Mr Syborn had demonstrated genuine insight and remorse, had apologised for his behaviour and that he made open and frank admissions at an early stage. He also had taken remedial action to change his practice to prevent the misconduct from reoccurring and that this was a single episode in a previously unblemished career approaching 40 years. The PCC decided that a reprimand was the appropriate and proportionate sanction.

—ENDS—

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 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
    – 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 media@arb.org.uk or on 020 7580 5861.

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