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Pringle's ARB letter prompts comparisons?

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The letter from the RIBA to the ARB (AJ 26.5.05) makes a very important point about the interference watershed that occurs in lots of bureaucratic regulatory situations. Is it the requirement simply to have appropriate insurance or must we also carry and show a piece of paper to prove it?

Our admired British system emphasises the spirit of the law: hold an appropriate PII policy.

The ARB favours a less attractive approach: show us a piece of paper each year or else. Analogies can be found in the distinction between Building Regulations (principles that are mandatory) and Approved Documents (specifics deemed to comply but not exclusively).

The ARB Act is peculiar in any event. Why are the majority of architects so insecure about their abilities that they seek a legal authority to protect their title? It might help society to protect the function of an architect by defining who must prepare and certify drawings as competent for construction. Failing that, what is gained - other than perceived commercial advantage over colleagues who failed to complete their course? Are there plans afoot to regulate the title of artist or designer?

Alfred Munkenbeck, via email

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