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ARB takes hard-line stance over insurance defaulters

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The Architects Registration Board is to crack down on architects who fail to use professional indemnity insurance. From 2002 it will demand to see evidence of every practitioner's cover before granting them registration. The move, which will affect all 30,000 registered architects in the UK, was agreed at the latest ARB board meeting. It follows the publication of research which suggests thousands of architects could be breaking the ARB's code of conduct by ignoring its demand for adequate insurance cover.

The crackdown will intensify over two years to give architects a chance to get their cover in order.

In October the ARB will send out a form for each architect to sign, declaring that they have cover in place. Then in 2002 architects must submit a copy of their insurance certificate alongside their registration documents. The plan has raised fears of an administrative nightmare through a soaring number of professional conduct committee cases.

There are also fears that it could discourage architects from registering at all.

The move was opposed by RIBA president and ARB board member Marco Goldschmied, who said that the demand demeans architects' professional status and reduces them to the level of tradesmen like washing machine fitters.

But fellow board member and barrister Keith Richards defended the proposal: 'We should never rely on the thin veneer of professionalism.'

ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan said that it may be able to broker a deal with insurers to keep down the cost of cover after the clampdown.

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