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ARB conduct penalties send out wrong signal

Alexander White, suspended by the Architects Registration Board (AJ 6.2.03), failed to give evidence at the hearing of the Professional Conduct Committee in his own defence. He failed to show up and so forced the ARB to rely on just one charge, that he had failed to complete the ARB's unwarranted professional indemnity insurance Certificate of Compliance.

It is a curious thing that failing to fill in a bogus form can be described as unacceptable professional conduct so heinous it can attract a fine of £1,000;

whereas failing to answer a serious complaint from a client in another case - a serious matter in my book - warrants a fine of just £500.

The registrar has said of White: 'This case sends the clearest message yet from the PCC to architects who fail to cooperate with the Board in respect of Professional Indemnity Insurance matters.'

One is left to wonder what that message might be when it is appreciated that the clerk to the PCC is one and the same person as the registrar, who also happens to be the chief executive officer of the ARB.

But whatever the message, if it relates to insurance, I shall continue to ignore it, preferring to manage my own professional affairs rather than be told how to do it by the official keeper of a list. It is salutary to remember that the registrar is given no power by the Architects' Act to monitor what architects do.

I think that the board which instructs him may have forgotten that when this legislation was introduced in parliament, the government spokesman said that 'the changes to the criteria (applying to a reformed ARB) remain firmly based on the ability of the individual to function as an architect, and do not extend to any of the criteria to cover financial or insurance matters'.

I shall continue to refuse to complete the Certificate of Compliance even if I am elected to the board this month.

It will be interesting to see if a charge is brought against me if I am elected.

Ian Salisbury, Oxford

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