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Letters from the world of registration

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Paul Hyett

Dear Mr Hyett, During a long career occasions have arisen where architects in my office have made major errors. Many readers will have had a similar experience. By requiring employers to report 'any serious falling short of standards on the part of any architect' the new arb code threatens consumer interests, as errant staff may now be too afraid to 'own up', thereby increasing the risks of mistakes going undetected.

Sir, 'Whistleblowing' has damaging implications for cpd as frightened architects will err towards secrecy instead of discussing mistakes and problems with their colleagues for fear of being reported to the arb. The valuable process of learning that has traditionally existed through open discussion within the healthy design office will therefore now become a thing of the past. Lest anyone deems criticism of the arb to be 'misconduct', I have travelled all the way to Breinton Common to post this anonymous letter.

Sir, My boss has just lost a court action over an error made nine years ago. Should I now report him and all the staff concerned to the arb? The new code gives no guidance on how far back this rule applies.Dear Mr Hyett, I have agonised over Christmas about whether to report my best friend over a serious mistake which he recently discussed with me. I daren't ask any other architect for advice lest he report me to the arb for withholding information. The aj should set up a helpline to counsel architects distressed by the new code. It must, for obvious reasons, be staffed by non-architects.

Dear Paul, Surely the arb realises that obligations to report other architects' errors have serious implications for all husband-and-wife teams in practice together. It strikes at the very heart of the trust that is the essential condition of marriage and, as such, is flawed. David Shalev and Eldred Evans, Michael and Patty Hopkins and John Pringle and Penny Richards are notable examples of spouses who could be compromised by this new rule. So too are Julyan Wickham and his Dutch wife Tess - even over their inspired work in Holland as, under introduction note F, I see that architects are required to apply the arb code 'wherever they work'. Does that, I respectfully ask, include the life hereafter?

Dear Mr Hyett, My husband has passed me the new arb Code of Conduct. As a schoolteacher and careers adviser, I will in future recommend pupils inclined towards disloyalty, sneaky behaviour and telling tales for future architectural training. Name and address withheld.

Sir, I talk in my sleep. My wife is an architect. We now have separate bedrooms!

Dear Mr Hyett, If I report my partner to arb over a major error that has led to litigation, I will implicitly be admitting liability, thus breaching my duty to our pi insurer who, in defence of our case, is denying that liability. Such reporting is much against the client's interests, as the insurer advises that I risk voiding cover if I compromise its position. Whose interests come first - the arb's or the client's?

A fictitious postbag perhaps, but real evidence of the justified criticism and ridicule that the arb increasingly heaps uponitself as the truth dawns that Standard 11 of the new code is totally unworkable. What a shambles!

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