At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 14, 15 and 16 May 2018 Mr Ibiapuye Ekineh of IBI Design Associates, Southgate, London, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and suspended from the Register of Architects for two years.
The PCC heard that Mr Ekineh had been instructed to undertake architectural services in respect of the conversion of a loft into a bedroom and bathroom.
It was alleged that Mr Ekineh failed to provide adequate terms of engagement and accurate drawings, measurements and plans in accordance with the requirements of the brief and Building Regulations. It further emerged that money which had been paid by the clients to Mr Ekineh to settle an invoice with London Building Control had not been paid over in full. Finally it was alleged that Mr Ekineh failed to communicate with his clients effectively, failed to ensure that he had adequate and appropriate insurance to meet his clients’ claims, and failed to deal promptly and openly with ARB in relation to his insurance position.
Mr Ekineh attended the hearing but was not legally represented. He accepted that he had failed to provide adequate terms of engagement. However he denied the remaining factual allegations and denied that any of them amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
The PCC however found all of the allegations proved and decided that they amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. In the view of the PCC, Mr Ekineh’s failings were serious and adversely impacted both his reputation and that of the profession generally. His attempts to mislead ARB as to his insurance cover amounted to a lack of integrity.
In considering sanction, the PCC noted that Mr Ekineh said that he had changed his office organisation and working practices. It also took into account that he now has appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place. However it noted that this was the second time he had been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, and considered that he had demonstrated little insight into the seriousness of his failings, instead continuing to blame the builder and client. Furthermore it considered that there had been a loss to clients and that Mr Ekineh’s failure to maintain adequate insurance from the start of the appointment deprived them of the realistic possibility of making a claim against his practice.
In those circumstances, the Committee imposed a two year suspension order from the Register of Architects.
Notes for Editors
ARB is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. The Act requires ARB (among other things) to:
- Maintain the Register of Architects (Section 3)
- Prescribe qualifications for entry to the Register of Architects (Section 4)
- Deal with competence to practise (Section 9)
- Issue a Code which lays down standards of professional conduct and practice (Section 13)
- Regulate use of the title “architect” and prosecute those who use it unlawfully (Section 20)
The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The Committee determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence. Where a guilty finding is made, the Committee 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.
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