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 are maintained. It is important that we share information about conduct and competence decisions to help all architects know what is expected of them.
On 4 March 2021 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued Ms Karin Reenie Elliott of Norwich with a penalty order of £2,000 following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC).
Following an investigation into a land ownership dispute Ms Elliott had been involved in, it came to ARB’s attention that was subject to a restraining order which prevented her from having any contact with the neighbours as a result of a series of abusive and offensive text messages. Further investigation unearthed a similar set of messages sent by Ms Elliot to another neighbour.
Ms Elliot denied the allegation that she was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, maintaining that the messages had to be understood in the context of the acrimonious dispute with her neighbours. The PCC however concluded that while the messages did not occur in the course of Ms Elliot’s architectural practice, they represented serious departures from the standard of behaviour expected from an architect under the Architects Code of Conduct and Practice. The messages, which were littered with expletives, references to being racists, Nazis, and made numerous other personal abusive comments, were evidence of a failure to maintain the reputation of architects and brought the profession into disrepute.
When considering sanction, the PCC took into account that Ms Elliott had no previous adverse regulatory findings, and that this was an isolated incident and out of character. Nevertheless, the PCC regarded the failings as serious and it concluded a penalty order of £2,000 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 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 (to a maximum of £2,500 for each offence)
– 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.
- Where an architect admits unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence and the proposed disciplinary sanction, the PCC can impose that penalty by consent, and without the need for a hearing.
- ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7580 5861.