RIBA council has passed a resolution expressing its concern to the arb about the board's 'attempt to widen interpretation of the Architects Act 1997 to apply to affixes' (the crux of the Baden Hellard case), and suggesting that the arb should underwrite Ron Baden Hellard's legal expenses in the board's forthcoming appeal. This should in theory be acceptable to the arb since, as Owen Luder, ARB vice-president and ex-riba president said at council, 'We need to proceed with the appeal to establish the principle of whether an affix can be used or not.'
Baden Hellard was found guilty by a magistrates' court of using the affix 'friba' when he was not in fact practising as an architect, but this decision was overturned in the Crown Court which found there was no case to answer. The arb is now taking it to appeal. 'The problem is,' said Luder, 'that a magistrates' court decision is not binding in law. That is why we need to proceed with the appeal.'
Maurice McCarthy accepted the new motion, to replace one he had originally tabled asking the riba president to take his concerns to the government and to take legal advice. David Rock explained that he is also having informal meetings with Barbara Kelly , chairman of the arb and, with council's agreement, he is to set up a liaison group to deal with matters of concern as the arb's role evolves. Rock added that the arb was shortly to review its contentious code of conduct, and that Kelly has assured him personally that the arb has no intention of taking over responsibility for architectural education.