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ARB punishes Oban architect for 'serious and widespread' failings

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An architect based in Oban, Argyll, has been suspended by the ARB following a series of ‘serious and widespread’ failings on a heavily delayed house extension scheme

The ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee found Martin Hadlington guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and removed him from the register for a year.

The architect faced 13 allegations over his conduct on the project. He was appointed in 2006 to work on a proposed addition to his clients’ property. A planning application was submitted in April 2010, with building due to commence in late 2011.

It was alleged the work was ‘substantially delayed’, due to Hadlington’s ‘numerous failings’, among them poor communication both with his clients and with the planning office and the absence of a cost estimate in line with his clients’ budget.

He was also accused of failing to adequately set out written terms of engagement, failing to respond to various correspondence in a timely manner, failing to properly communicate with his clients, failing to promptly advise them when the building contractors had withdrawn from the project, and dishonestly informing his clients that the contractors were still involved on the project when they were not.

Furthermore it was claimed Hadlington had failed to adequately progress the building warrant and provide the planning permission documents in a timely fashion and that he failed to promptly deal with invoices and dishonestly redacted the date of an invoice. He had also failed to develop an action plan and estimated timetable for the project despite requests to do so, failed to ensure that the building work which had already been delayed from summer 2011 started in 2012 and finally, that he failed to adequately deal with his clients’ complaint.

The majority of allegations were admitted and therefore ‘found proved’ by the committee at a three-day hearing on 11-13 August. The only allegation found unproved was that he had not informed his clients that the builders had withdrawn from the project.

The committee found the email, from which the clients’ allegation stemmed, simply stated that there was uncertainty over the situation concerning the contractor’s involvement, not that they had withdrawn from the project.

The ARB considered that, given the number of allegations found proved, Hadlington’s conduct did amount to unacceptable professional conduct.

Due to the numerous failings in respect of progressing the project, the delays in responding to correspondence, the late submission of invoices and other documentation, along with the finding that by redacting the date of an invoice was misleading and dishonest, the committee found that the failings were serious and widespread.

The committee said it had taken into account of a number of mitigating factors, ‘such as Hadlington’s remorse, the remedial steps he had taken to avoid such problems in the future’ and that he had no previous ‘adverse regulatory history’.

The ARB felt the level of dishonesty ‘to be at the lower end of the scale’ but that, considered together with the other failings, the appropriate sanction was suspension from the Register for 12 months.

Read the full hearing transcript here.

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