Image of outside building. Side view.

Sanctions and next steps

17 September 2021. Published by Emma Wherry, Senior Associate and Sarah O'Callaghan, Associate

Further to our previous articles detailing the stages of the Architect Registration Board's (ARB) disciplinary process up to the Hearing, this final article considers the sanctions the PCC can impose and briefly considers what steps can be taken if an unfavourable decision is reached.

After hearing the facts of the case and determining whether the allegations are proven and whether they amount to either to unacceptable professional conduct (UPC), serious professional incompetence (SPI), or both, the PCC will consider what, if any, sanction should be imposed. The sanctions guidance (which can be found here ) indicates that the PCC has the following options available to it:

  • Take no action.
  • Issue a reprimand. This marks that the conduct or competence of the architect was unacceptable.
  • Issue a penalty order. If imposed the architect will have to pay an amount up to £2,500, or £5,000 if both UPC and SPI are proven.
  • Make a suspension order. This suspends the architect from the register and will prevent them from practising as an architect for a period of time.
  • Erase the architect from the ARB register. This means that the architect would be barred from working again as an architect in the UK.

The PCC should consider sanctions in ascending order from the least severe, up to the most draconian sanction of erasure.

In determining the appropriate sanction, the PCC will take account of aggravating and mitigating factors. A detailed list is set out in the sanctions guidance, but these include aggravating factors such as previous disciplinary findings, concealment of wrongdoing and dishonesty. They also include mitigating factors such as whether it was an isolated incident and whether the architect has demonstrated insight and remorse.

Adverse disciplinary decisions are usually published on the ARB website, with the time frame being dictated by the sanction that is imposed. Following amendments proposed by the Building Safety Bill, it is likely that in the near future the ARB will also put unspent disciplinary convictions next to the Architect's name on the Register.

The Architects Act 1997 provides a right to appeal to the High Court in limited circumstances if the architect disagrees with the findings or sanctions imposed by the PCC. Any appeal must be issued within three months of the date on which notice of the decision is served; however there are of course more immediate concerns such as whether any steps should be taken to prevent an adverse decision entering the public domain in the interim thereby avoiding any potential reputational damage.

This concludes our series of articles on the ARB's disciplinary process.  If you receive any indication of a complaint or notice that you may be subject to an investigation by the ARB, please do not hesitate to contact one of the RPC team.