PCC reprimands architect for unacceptable professional conduct

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At a hearing of ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) Peter Bell of Peter Bell & Partners, London, was reprimanded following a finding of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC)

The PCC heard that Peter Bell was engaged in connection with the refurbishment of a Victorian property within a conservation area. It was alleged that Peter Bell had provided his client with incorrect and/or inadequate advice regarding planning and the removal of asbestos at the property.

It was also alleged that he did not enter into a written agreement with the client which adequately covered the expectations of standard 4.4 of the Architects Code. Bell denied all of the allegations.

Having considered the evidence, the PCC found that while the advice given by the architect in relation to the planning application and the removal of asbestos was inadequate, the failings were not so serious as to amount to UPC. It noted that Peter Bell accepted some failures and that he had learned from the experience.

In considering the allegation regarding terms of engagement, the PCC noted that while Peter Bell had provided his client with a number of documents before starting work, they did not meet the requirements of the Architects Code and were misleading in that they included out of date information concerning fee scales.

Therefore, given the importance of providing accurate and comprehensive terms, it represented a standard of conduct which fell short of that expected of an architect, and amounted to UPC.

In considering sanction the PCC noted a number of mitigating factors including Bell’s good disciplinary history, his engagement, insight and the remedial steps he had taken, although noting that it had taken until the hearing for him to recognise the deficiencies in his terms of engagement.

The PCC agreed that a reprimand was the appropriate sanction.

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