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Standard 9: Maintaining the reputation of architects

Standard 9 of the Architects Code goes to the heart of all professional regulation, that is, in maintaining the reputation of the profession. In the decision of Bolton v Law Society [1994] 1 WLR 512, Sir Thomas Bingham summarised the basis for this Standard when he stated, “A profession’s most valuable asset is its collective reputation and the confidence which that inspires … the reputation of the profession is more important than the fortunes of any individual member”.

Standard 9 is one of the broader provisions of the Code and covers a range of obligations, including an expectation of candour if you think you or a peer may have fallen short of professional expectations. You should notify us of conduct such as:  

  • conviction of a criminal offence
  • being the subject of a court order which prohibits acting as a company director
  • being the subject of a Bankruptcy Order, Debt Relief Order or Bankruptcy Restriction Order
  • giving a director disqualification undertaking or Bankruptcy Restriction undertaking
  • being director of a company which is wound up or placed in administration or a CVA
  • making an accommodation with creditors
  • failing to pay a judgment debt

While we will not need to take action in every case, this requirement ensures we are able to maintain the public’s trust in the profession by taking and demonstrating appropriate action (where necessary). Each situation is carefully considered on its own merits and further action is only likely if the behaviour falls significantly short of what the public would expect from a respected professional.

Furthermore, Standard 9 includes duties such as ensuring professional finances are managed responsibly and avoiding agreements which would prevent a party from reporting concerns to us.

Being part of a regulated profession also means ensuring you do not behave in a way which could bring yourself or the profession into disrepute. This includes the way you conduct yourself both within and outside of your professional practice, such as in your communications with others and use of social media. We have seen recent Professional Conduct Committee cases dealing with exactly these issues. In response we have issued guidance on using social media responsibly.

We hope you found this advice useful. We are here to support you through regulation and the Professional Standards team is on hand to provide further advice and guidance on professional obligations under the Code. Contact us if you have any concerns or queries and we will be happy to help.