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Disciplinary investigations against architects #6 - Professional Conduct Committee Hearing: What to expect

18 June 2021. Published by Emma Wherry, Senior Associate and Sarah O'Callaghan, Associate

Further to our previous five articles detailing the stages of the Architect Registration Board's (ARB) disciplinary process up to the Referral to Professional Conduct Committee stage, this article considers the Professional Conduct Committee Hearing, and what Architects should expect if their case reaches this stage.

The PCC panel will be constituted of one lay member, one architect and a legally qualified Chairperson. The Committee will introduce itself and put the charges to you and ask if you admit or deny them. 

The first stage of the hearing is the "facts" stage. Here, the panel builds up a picture of what happened with the assistance of all the evidence put before it. First, the Presenter will present their case on behalf of the ARB. This may involve witnesses or experts being called which you (or your representative) will have the chance to cross-examine. The 'burden of proof' lies with the Presenter for the ARB.  They will be required to prove the ARB's case on the civil standard of proof – the balance of probabilities. 

After this, you will have the opportunity to present your defence to the charges and call any witnesses or experts.  You can do this, or your representative can do this on your behalf.  If you intend to rely on witness evidence, it is preferable that they attend the hearing as less weight will be given to their testimony if they are not able to attend. 

The second stage occurs if any of the allegations are found to be proven.  In this stage, the panel will determine whether the facts proved amount either to unacceptable professional conduct (UPC), serious professional incompetence (SPI), or both.   
The final stage is the sanctions stage, where the panel can choose to impose sanctions, and if so which ones.  Please look out for our next article, which discusses these sanctions, and the steps that follow a PCC decision.  

If, in the meantime, 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.

Catch up on previous articles in the series:

(1) Disciplinary investigations against architects the process

(2) Disciplinary investigations against architects complaints to the arb

(3) Disciplinary investigations against architects the review stage

(4) Disciplinary investigations against architects investigations panel stage

(5) Disciplinary investigations against architects Referral to Professional Conduct Committee