Stuart Duffy of KDP Architects, Liverpool, has been removed from the Register of Architects by ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct
The PCC heard that Stuart Duffy had on separate occasions signed off properties as being practically complete when he knew that the construction work had not been completed. The first occasion was in relation to a block of apartments in Liverpool in 2013; the second in relation to a Newcastle-under-Lyme residential development in 2017.
An expert architect appointed by ARB reported that all properties remained unfit for occupation and far from complete, noting the lack of any fire protection, missing doors, exposed steelwork and an absence of electrical or plumbing installation.
Complaints had been made by a number of investors who said that as a result of the certification, funds had been released in relation to construction that had never been carried out. It was also alleged at the PCC that Stuart Duffy had failed to deal with those complaints appropriately.
Duffy denied that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. He accepted under cross-examination that the properties had not reached the stage of practical completion and he had acted dishonestly in certifying that they had.
However, he claimed that the Liverpool properties had been certified only as a result of undue pressure from the developer; and that the Newcastle-under-Lyme development had only been certified to maintain liquidity in the project and prevent the investors from losing their money.
The PCC found that Stuart Duffy had acted dishonestly, and was therefore guilty of unacceptable professional conduct. While it accepted his explanation in respect of dealing with the complaints he had received, in knowingly signing off properties as complete when he knew they were not, Duffy had fallen substantially short of the conduct expected of an architect.
In considering sanction, the PCC took into account Duffy’s previous unblemished record and co-operation with the investigation as a mitigating factor, but this was weighed against his limited insight, the serious impact his actions had caused others, and the repetition of his dishonest statements over a significant period of time. As a result, Stuart Duffy was erased from the Register of Architects.