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 Jahangir Saleem Malik of Architecture and Design Practice, Middlesex, has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC) following a hearing of ARB’s independent Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) held on 23, 26 and 27 October 2020.
In July 2018, Mr Malik was contracted by his client to assist with designing a first-floor extension to a bungalow. In September 2019 the client complained to ARB following alleged delays with the project and a dispute regarding fees.
It was alleged that Mr Malik failed to deliver a professional service to his client without undue delay, and failed to deal with his client’s complaint appropriately. He faced a further allegation that he had failed to co-operate with ARB’s investigation into his conduct.
Mr Malik attended the hearing but was not legally represented. He stated that the client made unreasonable requests to change the design and was reluctant to pay his fees. He stated he had personal difficulties that impacted on his ability to provide his service, or engage with his client and the complaints process. He stated that he had not received the emails of complaint from his client or emails and letters from ARB about the matter. He denied that his conduct amounted to UPC.
The PCC found the allegations proved. Mr Malik’s failure to explain to his client his unwillingness to continue working on the project, and his subsequent failure to respond to his complaints and concerns were serious failings. It found that these failings adversely impacted on his own reputation and that of the profession generally and amounts to UPC. Additionally, the PCC noted that members of the public would expect ARB to carry out prompt and efficient investigations and that Mr Malik’s “should not delay or frustrate that process”.
In considering its sanction, the PCC acknowledged Mr Malik had no adverse regulatory history and that this was an isolated incident relating to one client. However, the PCC highlighted that the effect on the client was serious, causing frustration and upset. It noted that Mr Malik had not fully expressed remorse and insight into his failings, and continued to blame his client. It therefore concluded a penalty order of £1,250 would be 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.
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