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 Jonathan Colin Muirhead of Newark, Nottinghamshire has been erased from the Architects Register following a hearing of ARB’s independent Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 29-30 March 2021 and 28 May 2021.
Mr Muirhead had received six criminal convictions spanning a period of over two years. These included offences of drink driving, failure to surrender to custody and multiple counts of assault by beating. Mr Muirhead had failed to disclose these convictions to the ARB. The ARB alleged that Mr Muirhead’s convictions were relevant to his fitness to practise as an architect because of the nature and seriousness of the offences, which demonstrated ‘violence and a disregard to the safety of others.’
Mr Muirhead partially attended the hearing in person. The PCC noted that Mr Muirhead did not dispute any of the convictions but argued that these were not material to his fitness to practise. The found that the convictions were material to Mr Muirhead’s fitness to practise as they called into question his integrity and brought the reputation of the profession into disrepute.
The PCC also found the allegations of UPC proved and considered that Mr Muirhead had not acted with honesty and integrity by failing to promptly and fully declare his convictions. It found that he had sought to mislead ARB about the extent of his criminal offences. The PCC found that his conduct constituted a breach of Standard 1.1 and 9.4 of the Architects Code. The PCC considered his actions represented a serious departure from the standard expected of an architect and amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
When considering sanction, the PCC noted Mr Muirhead had no previous regulatory findings. The Committee acknowledged the offending arose at a very difficult time for Mr Muirhead however he had shown no insight into the effect of his conduct and that the convictions were numerous and demonstrated an escalating pattern of behaviour between 2018 and 2020. It concluded that Mr Muirhead’s conduct was fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the Register and that in the interest of the reputation of the profession, Mr Muirhead’s name should be removed from the Architects Register. As he is no longer registered with ARB, he can no longer practise as an architect in the UK.
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
- 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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