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ARB plans to scrap controversial PII form

The Architects’ Registration Board (ARB ) is proposing to scrap its contentious professional indemnity insurance (PII) ‘tick box’ form

Critics of the Statement of Compliance said the board was overstepping its statutory remit by asking architects to annually prove their insurance status.

The proposal comes just months after architect Ian Salisbury won his legal battle with the board over his failure to complete the PII form (AJ15.04.10).

The form will now be suspended until a final decision is made by the board in September, which has justified the move on the grounds of expediency and cost.

At a meeting last Thursday (22 July), the board said it would instead issue regular reminders and bulletins to members when applying for and reinstating their registration.

Salisbury said: ‘This is an overdue correction; the first time I raised this with the board was in 1997… I have consistently maintained that the board were pursuing an entirely unlawful policy by requiring those on their register to provide information, a process which costs a great deal.

‘Had it not been for my case this matter would never have been before the board. ‘

Prior to Salisbury’s case, architects including Richard Lyon and John Lewis were prosecuted by ARB for failing to comply with the current system.

Lyon unsuccessfully challenged the £1,000 fine issued against him in 2005. Lyon did not comment on the outcome of last week’s meeting.

Former RIBA president Jack Pringle said: ‘ARB has eventually given into the inevitable. They need to draw a broader lesson and focus solely on what the Act requires them to do, rather than on what they believe the Act should require them to do.’

The decision to ditch the Statement of Compliance would generate an estimated saving of £30,000 annually for the ARB.

Meanwhile, the ARB has proposed a new fee structure which would mean higher fees for first-time applicants, but lower penalty fees for reinstated

The new application fee would be £30 and the penalty fee for architects wanting to be reinstated would be reduced.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Jon-Marc Creaney

    I read this, and the previous article and coments and fail to see what the issue is with ticking the box. Maybe an article explaining why it is a problem to confirm you have PI insurance rather than an overstepping of the mark? 'had it not been for me this matter would never been before the board'. Is that because no-one else really had an issue with it? I would just like to understand, is it just about the £30k although this seems plucked out the air as it can be done on line now and this would surely reduce costs.

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  • Jon Marc,
    You miss the point. PI is for the protection of architects, not for the public. If an architect is rich enough to cover a claim or if he does things which wouldn't attract claims, why should the ARB force him to have insurance? Architecture is not like driving a car....

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  • I've always held that the ARB has made it its business to discredit architects, and the PII issue is a good example of that. After spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money, ARB have suceeded not in uncovering a swathe of uninsured architects, but in making the public and our clients suspicious. The ARB may have its reassuring words, but the sub-message, in my view, has always been: "trust us, not them". That is why we need an effective professional institution, and not a statutory authority.

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  • Andrew Hanson

    Of course another issue is that having PI insurance makes you a much more attractive target to a litigiously minded client. Much easier to get cash out of you than forcing you into bankruptcy especially when your insurance company caves in to avoid expensive litigation and ruins your reputation.

    Having said that, only a lunatic would be in practice without adequate PI cover.

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