East Lothian architect handed £1,500 fine


Architect Alan James Sheerin of Haddington, East Lothian, has been handed a £1,500 fine following a finding of serious professional incompetence (SPI)

A hearing of ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) held on 12 and 13 May 2020 concluded with a £1,500 fine issued to architect Alan James Sheerin after a finding of serious professional incompetence (SPI).

The hearing was carried out by video link, with the consent of all parties.

Sheerin had been instructed by the owner of a plot of land to prepare drawings for a house so it could be sold with planning consent. After the planning permission was obtained, the property was sold to the client with a view to build the house designed by Sheerin.

The client complained to ARB in December 2018 after the builder measured the site and found it was not possible to build the house within the space available on the plot.

It was alleged that Alan James Sheerin had produced a design for a house with incorrect measurements for the size of the plot and to the wrong scale, contrary to Standards 2.1 and 6.1 of the Architects Code.

Sheerin did not attend the hearing though his solicitors had confirmed he had no objection to the committee proceeding in his absence. In his written submissions, Sheerin accepted he made an error in transposing the plan and that this constitutes SPI.

PCC findings

The PCC found the allegation proven and concluded it was the process Sheerin followed that produced the flawed planning application he used.

It highlighted that Sheerin was aware the plot would be purchased with the intention to build the house he had designed. It was therefore his responsibility to ensure the design was feasible.

When considering sanction, the PCC noted Alan James Sheerin had no previous adverse regulatory findings. The PCC also considered his expressions of regret within his submissions, and that there is a minimal risk of repetition as Sheerin is now retired.

The PCC concluded a penalty order of £1,500 would be the appropriate sanction given the seriousness of his failings and the harm caused to his clients, who were unable to build the home they were hoping for.


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