On 20 September 2019 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) issued architect Debbie Flevotomou, of Debbie Flevotomou Architects Ltd, Mayfair with a penalty order of £1,000 after she admitted unacceptable professional conduct
Ms Flevotomou was retained to assist her client with a loft conversion and the replacement of windows throughout their property. The client contacted ARB following an inappropriate response from Ms Flevotomou to their complaint about her service.
Following an investigation, Ms Flevotomou accepted she had not entered into a written agreement with her client which adequately covered the terms of engagement, contrary to Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
She also accepted that she submitted an inaccurate planning application and that the subsequent conditional approval was issued on the basis of the incorrect information contained within the planning application. Ms Flevotomou finally accepted her responses to the complaint submitted to her by her client were inappropriate and unprofessional, and for which she subsequently apologised.
Ms Flevotomou waived her right to have the case heard at a public hearing and agreed that the decision could be made by the PCC on the basis of the papers alone.
The PCC found these failings to be serious breaches of the Architects Code which had the potential to diminish both the architect’s reputation and that of the profession generally but took note of Ms Flevotomou’s admissions and the fact that she had engaged fully in the regulatory process. It considered a penalty order of £1,000 to be the appropriate and proportionate sanction.
A copy of the Consent Order can be found here.
Debbie Flevotomou responds: “I respect the decision of the ARB in this case and recognise that the body itself has been founded to regulate and promote the professionalism of architects within the UK.
“However, it is arguable by some, that certain governances by the body, can be construed as pedantic, and can actually hinder the high levels of service expected from Architects in today’s challenging environment, when more is expected for less, in uncertain times.
“Whilst chastened by the decision, it is important to acknowledge that perceived misdemeanors, should not impede, or discourage, the huge strides architects take not just to satisfy clients, but to inspire them, and promote their properties.
“It is important that the ARB, in its applauded aim to ensure good standards, for the benefit of the public and architects alike, do not actually undermine this effort unnecessarily. Let this not be a microcosm, of the great institute that is architecture.
“We as architects help change the way the world is experienced by others. This depends on the architects’ dedication and the contexts invested in space. Being an architect is like running a marathon.
“Although ‘checks and balances’ are absolutely necessary, let it not hamper the flow of creativity and commitment needed to finish the race. In this context, I would like to make something positive out of this experience and therefore I would be making a private contribution to the RIBA educational trust.”