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ARB code 'open to client abuse'

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Clients are using a clause in the ARB's Code of Conduct to 'vindictively' attack architects that they have employed, members of the board have claimed.

Yasmin Shariff told last week's board meeting that members of the public are taking advantage of Standard 11 'when they can't find anything else to get them on'. She said that these clients use Standard 11 as a tool to avoid paying the fees owed to practices that have completed generally satisfactory work.

Shariff's comments follow a spate of recent Professional Conduct Committee hearings in which architects have been prosecuted for failing to meet Standard 11.

The clause states that 'architects should organise and manage their professional work responsibly and with regard to the interests of their clients'. Some board members are worried that the clause is too vague in its wording, leaving it open to abuse by clients.

Shariff said: 'Standard 11 is used vindictively against architects and that seems extremely unfair to me. These clients look for ways of taking action against them and come across this.

'When they do not want to pay the fee or they simply want to 'get' the architect this is normally the only one they can find, ' she added.

Shariff found support from fellow member John Spencely, who agreed that he was concerned that architects who are not truly at fault are suffering.

'What is happening is that architects that have done nothing really wrong are facing dire consequences because they have left themselves open, ' he said. 'Your heart bleeds for them.' However, board chair Judge Humphrey Lloyd was more reserved about Section 11's failings. 'It is at the heart of every relationship between architect and client, ' he concluded.

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