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ARB exhumes 'trade union' jibe - and enrages RIBA

The arb has once again infuriated the riba by redistributing to students a leaflet denouncing the institute as a trade union. The move rubs salt into the wound initially opened by the original production of the document, which the arb apologised for and promised to withdraw. However, it resurfaced at Kingston University on 14 April, when it was given out to about 40 students at a Part 3 lecture.

'I'm surprised that having withdrawn this misleading document and apologised to the riba, the arb should then be reissuing it to colleges,' said Paul Hyett, riba honorary vice-president of education. 'It does nothing to help understanding or relationships.'

Leonie Milliner, director of education at the riba, intervened in March (aj 25.3.99) to get the leaflet - 'Some frequently asked questions about the architects registration board' - withdrawn. Under a 'question' headed 'What is the difference between arb and the Royal Institute of British Architects?' it says that the institute promotes its members through promoting the profession so 'it may be helpful to think of riba as a trade union'. It goes on to say it has statutory responsibility for the validation of courses. riba president David Rock has condemned the document as a contradiction of the institute's charter, which says it exists for the promotion of architecture. He told the aj it contained other 'false claims' and fired off letters to the arb last week asking for clarification of its position and offering help in rewriting the offending material.

The arb has conceded to many of the wishes of the riba in approving a revised Code of Conduct for publication this summer. 'Serious professional incompetence' is now to be viewed as a 'service which falls short of the standards required of a registered person', says the arb. And 'after listening carefully to representations about Standard 11 - the so-called whistle- blowers' charter', it has agreed to exclude architects in possession of 'privileged' information such as arbitrators and expert witnesses from having to report serious breaches of the code. Hyett said that although he was pleased at the concession, the whole clause was 'inappropriate'.

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