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.
On 16 September 2020 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued Mr John Wratten of John Wratten Chartered Architect, Somerset with a penalty order of £500 following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct.
While being investigated by ARB regarding a lack of terms of engagement, Mr Wratten sent a letter to his former clients in relation to the time and money it was costing him to deal with their grievance, and instructing them to withdraw their complaint to avoid him to taking steps against them.
The PCC found that the latter amounted to a veiled threat with a view to frustrating the regulatory process. Under Standard 9.5 of the Architects Code an architect should not enter into any agreement which prevents someone reporting a breach of the Code to ARB. In sending the letter, the PCC found Mr Wratten had acted against the spirit of the Code.
When considering sanction, the PCC took into account that Mr Wratten had no previous adverse regulatory findings, and that he had recognised that sending the letter was a ‘regrettable mistake’. Nevertheless, the PCC regarded the failing as a serious and considered that it diminished both Mr Wratten’s reputation and that of the profession generally. It therefore concluded a penalty order of £500 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.
For further information please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) by email at email@example.com or 020 7580 5861.