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ARB denies RIBA 'remit breach' accusation

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The ARB will ask the RIBA explain to why it falsely accused the organistion of referring to its registrants as ‘members’

The moves comes after RIBA president Angela Brady sent a strongly worded letter to the official register in December accusing it of overstepping its statutory remit by referring to architects as ‘members’ in a recent ebulletin.

According to Brady the alleged reference, coupled with other alleged misdemeanours and ARB’s claim to be ‘flying the flag for architects’, ‘significantly undermined and overlapped with the role of the professional bodies such as the RIBA, RIAS, RSUA and RSAW.’

ARB ebulletin

ARB ebulletin - click to view

However it emerged today that, contrary to the RIBA claims, the November ebulletin was free from any reference to ARB registrants as ‘members’.

Sent to all ARB-registered architects, the document did contain the word ‘members’ six times - twice in reference to board members and four times concerning the public.

The RIBA letter had said: ‘The recent ARB ebulletin gave use serious concern in the way the ARB now refers to registrants as “members”, and talks about “flying the flag for architects”. The ARB is not a membership organisation and therefore does not have “members”.’

At an ARB board meeting today the RIBA’s claims were swiftly countered by the ARB executive prompting committee members to demand an RIBA explanation for the accusation.

Registrar Alison Carr said: ‘We don’t refer to architects as members. We are very careful not to. If we have we will take it down. However I can’t find any reference to members which has been issued.’

ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel said the RIBA letter contained ‘misapprehensions about [ARB’s] work and obligations.’

Stressing the two organisations’ positive relationship, she said: ‘If there is something causing concern there is something missing in right form of communication.’

But board members including ARB Reform Group activist Ruth Brennan and lay member Agnes Grunwald-Spier called for explanation from RIBA ‘in a very robust way.’

In response, Carr said she had read the bulletin ‘many times’ and was satisfied architects were not referred to as members. She confirmed the ARB board’s written response to the letter would ask for an RIBA explanation of the claim.

Brady’s December 2012 letter demanded ARB provide ‘written assurance’ it would abandon activities ‘not within its statutory objectives’.

Alleged misdemeanours included attending consumer shows, encouraging architects to use ‘ARB’ after their name and creating a register which architects can use as a ‘marketing tool’.

The ARB board said today it had at no point encouraged registrants to use ‘ARB’ after their names.

The registrar also presented the new online register to board members, explaining it had been tweaked to make it more ‘useable for clients and potential clients and we hope more helpful for architects.’

The ARB has encouraged architects to include their web address, email, telephone number and fax on the new ‘modernised’ facility which can be linked to from practices’ websites using an ARB logo.

A follow-up letter by Brady sent on Tuesday (5 February) and containing details of a proposed ARB-RIBA Working Party was recognised by the board for its ‘conciliatory tone’.

Brady’s letter however stressed issues raised in her previous December communication remained ‘of real concern to the RIBA and our membership.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Personally I think the RIBA should be backing off from this needless and rancorous disagreement that they seem to have initiated. The ARB performs its specific statutory duty perfectly well and I know many architects who agree with the clear division in roles and responsibilities between the ARB and the RIBA. No change please in the status quo.

    J.F. Davidson RIBA

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