The ARB has ‘capitulated’ after a long-running legal battle over whether it is entitled to prosecute architects for failing to account for their professional indemnity insurance (PII)
Following judicial review proceedings in the High Court, the board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) has agreed to ‘wipe the slate clean’ of charges against ardent ARB critic Ian Salisbury for refusing to ‘tick the insurance box’.
The architect has fought the board since 1998 on the grounds it was ‘unjustifiably’ exceeding powers given to it by the Architects Act 1997. He said: ‘This cave-in is a complete vindication of my position.’
Salisbury believes the collapse of the case against him could kickstart a wave of judicial review proceedings by architects who have been found guilty of professional misconduct by the PCC over insurance matters.
Among them is Richard Lyon, who was fined £1,000 by the committee in January 2006 for failing to ‘tick the box’. Although he had PII cover, Lyon refused to comply on ‘the principle of legality’ and is demanding an apology, a ‘complete and formal exoneration’ and the return of the money with accrued interest.
Lyon, who believes he lost out on expert witness work because of the judgement, said: ‘The scenario is an example of a quango exerting powers it does not have.’
A spokesperson for the ARB said: ‘The case was withdrawn from the PCC after a request from the Investigations Committee due to new evidence being received.
‘As the case is no longer in the public domain it would not be right for the ARB to comment publicly, save to say that each case is judged on its own merits, and that there are no wider implications or precedents set as a result of the withdrawal of this case.’
Former RIBA president Jack Pringle believes the ARB now needs to clarify its new position. He said: ‘It appears the ARB is now in a completely untenable position regards PII and they should clean their act up.
‘Will it take another 12 years and goodness knows how much architects’ registration fees spent on ARB solicitors to thrash this out?’