Munkenbeck and Marshall v Kensington Hotel (AJ 22.03.07) suggests that an accurate description of qualifications is required and that the use of designations such as 'trainee architect' without qualification is not satisfactory. Dispute resolution specialist Brewer Consulting states on its website: 'It is clear that professional firms should always be careful when describing their staff. . . failure to accurately represent qualifications or experience could potentially be used by the client to dispute fees'. Surely this simple fact should worry the profession, just as much as the rights and wrongs of the ARB's interpretations?
As I write this letter, I wonder if the advert I have just seen in Wycombe District Council's local guide from a company that provides 'residential architecture: from extensions to new buildings' and 'design, planning, building regulations and project management all under one roof' would confuse either a professional or a layman. I think it would. Would a layman appoint this person thinking they are an architect? Maybe. Is the person registered? Not according to the ARB. Does the styling use a construct containing the term 'architect'? Yes, more than once. Does this matter? Not if the profession thinks the protection of title or the general public is not important.
Surely, rather than knocking the ARB, we should move on to the wider question of what it is to be a professional in 2007?
What should our professional standards be, and should the profession have a duty of care to the public? It's a question that Part 3 students have to consider. Once you are a registered architect the question of professionalism does not disappear.
How can we suggest changes to the ARB when the profession has not considered what it is to be a professional?
Mark Longworth RIBA, Bicester, Oxon