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’s important that we share information about conduct and competence decisions to help all architects know what is expected of them.
A hearing of ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) concluded on 13 January 2021 with a reprimand for Mr Simon Thomas Middlehurst of Habispace Ltd, Richmond following a conviction for a criminal offence.
In January 2020 Mr Middlehurst was convicted of assault by beating. This resulted in an 18 month Community Order with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement for 6 days and a Programme Requirement to participate in an accredited programme for 30 days. The allegation heard by the PCC was that the conviction was relevant to his fitness to practise as an architect.
Mindful of its need to protect the public, the PCC considered the offence was serious and demonstrated a lack of restraint. It concluded that Mr Middlehurst’s conduct had undermined both his integrity and public confidence in the profession.
In considering sanction, the PCC noted that Mr Middlehurst’s conviction had resulted from a single incident in a career of 28 years, he had plead guilty to the criminal charges and had self-reported the conviction to ARB as required under the Architects Code. Further, the Architect had sought and continues to receive professional assistance in respect of the issues that led to his offending behaviour. However, the PCC noted that the conviction related to the physical assault of two people, in aggravating circumstances, and that Mr Middlehurst had demonstrated only partial insight into the offence.
The PCC considered the appropriate sanction to be a reprimand due to the low risk of repetition given that Mr Middlehurst’s circumstances had changed since the offence. The PCC also considered the impact the reprimand would have on Mr Middlehurst, as the sanction would stay on his record indefinitely. The view of the PCC was that its determination would provide an unequivocal statement to the profession and the public that his conduct, even though not in a professional setting, was not of the standard to be expected of an architect.
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.
- 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.
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