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ARB chair defends ‘mass strike-off’ of 2,000 architects

ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel has defended the ‘mass strike off’ of more than 2,000 architects from the register for failing to pay their retention fee on time

In a letter to the AJ, Fraenkel said it was ‘not unreasonable’ to expect architects to pay their £105 annual subscription on time when notified three months in advance.

She said: ‘The notices were sent out on 14 October with five email reminders and plenty of information on our website and ebulletins. It was clear that payment must be made by December 31st.’

She continued: ‘Three months to find and make payment does not seem unreasonable.’

A total of 2,043 architects – almost six per cent of the UK’s 34,000-strong profession – failed to cough up the fee in time, forcing them to pay a £65 charge if they wanted to re-join the register.

This amount to around 57 per cent more architects being kicked off than last year (1,300 architects) for late payment in part because the £105 payment deadline was brought forward by a month to 31 December.

The ARB chair also said it was important the public was assured the majority of architects pay bills on time.

It’s only a tiny percentage who have failed to pay on time

She said: ‘The sum involved is £2.10 a week - which is tax deductible. Not surprisingly then it is only a tiny percentage, 6 per cent, who have failed to pay their bills on time.

‘A proportion of those who haven’t paid will have refrained from paying because they do not wish to renew their registration.’

Fraenkel’s letter was sent two days after RIBA president Stephen Hodder said the register had been ‘harsh’ in removing architects for non-payment.

Read Fraenkel’s letter in next week’s AJ

 

Readers' comments (2)

  • Although fees charged in advance of a service provided is becoming more frequent, architects generally continue to charge in arrears for services provided. That requires a level of trust and it is therefore somewhat galling that the ARB has changed its rules to a level of zero trust in the profession.

    Be that as it may, the acid question is whether it is lawful for the ARB to collect fees during the year preceding the year of retention. The wording of section 8(1) of the Act is ambiguous and it should therefore be read (under the normal rules of statutory interpretation) to the advantage of the payer, that the registered person pays the retention fee for retention "in any calendar year after that in which it was entered"

    That being so it seems likely to me that once again the ARB is acting unlawfully, not only in striking out members (which in the Act is described as being not mandatory but as a discretionary consequence of a failure to pay) but by charging additional and perhaps punitive fees for "application" and for "reinstatement" as well as for "retention".

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  • When Mr Salisbury and the rest of his ARB bashing chums get their way, the ARB will be abolished along with protection of title. This will open the floodgates for anybody to practise as an architect. Qualified architects will then have no choice if they want to set themselves apart from the charlatans - pay £400 or so to join Mr Salisbury's private club, the RIBA, and become "Chartered". Then spend the rest of their working lives whinging about RIBA fees. The ARB, albeit not perfect, represents far better value for money at £100 or so, protecting title whilst upholding professional standards.

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