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'ARB prejudiced my conduct case'

An architect facing a charge of serious professional incompetence has accused the Architects Registration Board of seriously prejudicing his case before he was due to face arb's professional conduct committee this week.

London architect Jack Schneider said that arb has already issued judgements on his case in advance of this week's planned hearing by sending the arb investigator's report to the solicitor of his client, as well as the solicitor appointed by Schneider's professional indemnity insurer.

arb's appointed investigator Michael Harris sent his report containing judgments on Schneider's conduct during a £280,000 refurbishment of a private house to both parties in April. On Tuesday this week the hearing was postponed after Schneider's solicitor demanded time to appoint an independent architect to investigate the case.

'The report was sent to the client's solicitor and this will jeopardise the hearing,' Schneider said. 'It contained comments such as 'Mr Schneider's conduct was extremely high risk'. It is absolutely a judgment before the hearing - I was extremely shocked.' Schneider said he is being accused for his involvement in extra charges made to the client by contractors and also variations in contract time stemming from interventions by building control authorities. He also claims that the arb failed to investigate the case properly, because it only interviewed him once for 30 minutes at the beginning of proceedings in 1998 and then failed to contact him again during the investigation.

'We had a half hour meeting and he never called me again to corroborate any of the issues,' Schneider said. 'The arb is acting like it is the other side. How can it prepare a report without me knowing anything about it?'

The solicitor for the architect's insurer said: 'We decided that we wanted to take our own independent architectural advice on the facts of the case.'

The developments follow a controversial professional conduct committee case held by the arb earlier this year. The arb has already been attacked for failing to undertake rigorous preliminary investigations in the case of Ingrid Morris (aj 27.1.00). The arb refused to comment on the case - a new date has yet to be set for the adjourned hearing.

The arb launched its first web site, www.arb.org.uk, this week. It features a searchable database of all registered architects, details of its regulations and information on education and careers. arb would not divulge the domain's cost, but an official said it had been bought 'cheaply' in 1998.

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