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Part II activist abandons ARB high court action

A campaigner for part II architects’ equality has walked away from a High Court challenge against the ARB after learning the legal costs could leave him a ‘Pyrrhic’ victor

In February, Association of Part Two Architects-founder Paul McGrath announced he was pursuing legal action against the organisation following the rejection of his application to join the official register of UK architects. McGrath, who wants architectural assistants recognised as architects, today revealed he had abandoned the case following legal advice warning him of a ‘Pyrrhic’ victory.

A document written by McGrath’s barrister – seen by the AJ – said: ‘I must advise against pursuing the appeal. Any victory on the issue of principle will likely be Pyrrhic, and entail substantial exposure as to costs.’

The ARB board rejected McGrath’s plea for registration on the grounds he had failed to obtain a part three qualification or a qualification that demonstrated equivalence.

The activist’s legal advice claimed that with ‘additional experience’ his case could be strengthened. However, McGrath is understood to have ruled this out due to cost.

McGrath could now be liable to pay the ARB’s legal fees however it is understood an agreement between him and ARB could see this penalty wavered on the condition his appeal is finally laid to rest.

The Association of Part Two Architects (TAPTA) was established in November to challenge the ‘injustice’ by which architects from EU member states can join the ARB register while part two architects with ‘similar  qualifications’ are barred.

McGrath at the time said: ‘Neither  the  RIBA  nor  the  ARB  properly  represent  our  interests  as  they  see  Part  II  merely  as  a  stepping  stone  to  Part  3  and  not  a  destination  in  its  own  right.

‘We  need  to  come  together  and  challenge  the  ARB  over  this  discrimination.  Is  it  fair  to  ask  students  to  spend  six  years  of  their  life  studying  and  incur  tens  of  thousands  of  pounds  of  debt  simply  to  be  called  an  “assistant”?’

Readers' comments (3)

  • John Kellett

    This is an issue that requires input from Europe and a investigation into the Architect's Directive.
    As I understand it, persons qualified in Europe to the equivalent of Part 2 can register with ARB here as architects. Persons qualified here require Part 3 to register with ARB. That is plainly inequitable.
    RIBA membership, "the gold standard", requires Part 3 regardless of where one qualified and is, I understand, regarded highly around the world.
    A two tier system would be silly and insupportable, there is no reason for the Architect's Directive not to raise the level of 'qualification' across Europe to that of Part 3 or equivalence.

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  • Clearly the level of qualification across Europe should be raised to make things equitable. Standards need raising not lowering. I can assure McGrath that even with Part 3 or equivalent there is a lot of learning still to be done which can only be gained by practical experience (actually you never stop learning). Indeed it could be argued that the level attained at Part 3 is barely adequate in todays litigious environment. Clearly had McGrath put his efforts into gaining Part 3 and campaigning to raise the European standards then the profession as a whole might have benefited. One hopes that in his work he is not always advising his clients to go for the lowest common denominator.

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  • According to the article above, McGrath 'failed to obtain the part 3 qualification'. As with anyone else in that position, perhaps he should spend his time and energy re-taking the the exam and complete the journey every other UK Architect has taken. The up-side of this is that the experience gained throughout the part 3 process is valuable and puts those who have qualified in a stronger position than those who have studied abroad and merely registered with ARB. The occassions on which I have witnessed evidence of this are too numerous to mention.

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