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'Intimidating' architect suspended by ARB

Michael Phillips has been suspended from the Architects Registration Board (ARB) for four months after being found guilty of four allegations of unacceptable professional conduct

Phillips, based in Kingsbridge, Devon, was summoned before the ARB’s professional conduct committee after a dispute over fees for work on a Grade II-listed building in Lymington, Hampshire snowballed.

The breakdown in the relationship between the ‘intimidating’ Phillips and his clients Cornell and Susan Riklin was so bad the pair was forced to obtain an injunction against the architect to stop him harrassing them (see full transcript attached).

The first charge claimed Phillips’ terms-of-appointment letter had failed to record provision for termination and dispute resolution while he was further accused of not making sure the practice had effective internal monitoring and review procedures in place when he handed the project to a colleague.

He faced a third charge of not keeping his client informed of costs by failing to send any invoices over a two-year period despite pledging to give monthly updates while the final allegation claimed he failed to deal with a dispute about his professional work appropriately by selling a disputed debt to a debt-collection agency.

Phillips, who said he has lost his practice as a result of the project as well as the global downturn, admitted the facts relating to all four allegations. The committee found him guilty of all four allegations, stressing that the final charge was ‘serious unacceptable professional conduct’.

Full allegations faced by Phillips

1. That he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct/serious professional incompetence in one or more of the following respects:

(i) contrary to Standard 11.1 of the Architects Code of Conduct (2002), he failed to inform the complainant or his wife in writing of the provision for termination, provisions for dispute resolution, and that he was, as an architect, subject to the disciplinary sanction of the Board; 

(ii) contrary to Standard 11.3, he failed to ensure that his practice had appropriate and effective internal procedures, including monitoring and review procedures; 

(iii) contrary to Standard 11.5, failed to keep the Complainants informed of the progress of work undertaken on their behalf and of any issue which may have significantly affected its quality or cost;

 (iv) contrary to Standard 12; failed to handle the Complainants or their legal representative’s complaint appropriately.

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