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Aberdeen architect loses supreme court appeal against ARB strike-off

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An Aberdeen architect found guilty of serious professional incompetence by the ARB and struck off the register has lost an appeal against the board’s decision in the highest Scottish court

In November, Neil Rothnie, 62, who was working both for Neil Rothnie Architects and Grampian Design Associates, was suspended from the register for the maximum of two years over incompetent design work on a defect-hit residential project.  

According to the ARB’s professional conduct committee (PCC), Rothnie had failed to adequately respond to concerns raised by the owner of a house designed by the architect, in particular with regards to leaks at the property.

In 2016 a surveyor identified defects at the home including an incorrectly designed gable wall head, cracking in mortar joints between granite cope stones and inadequate detail at joints between a side wing pitched roof and a main gable.

An independent report commissioned by the ARB from a chartered architect agreed with the surveyor’s conclusions, ruling that the design flaws identified were ‘serious failings’ and that water ingress noted by the homeowner could affect the property’s resale value.

Rothnie had maintained that the defects had not resulted from design flaws on his part, claiming a structural engineer had approved the design and blaming the builders for poor workmanship.

But the committee found the defects had resulted from the architect’s design and that this failing was serious professional incompetence, as it undermined the integrity of the property. It also considered Rothnie’s failure to deal sufficiently with concerns raised by the complainant amounted to unacceptable professional conduct, the committee ruled.

Rothnie subsequently appealed to the Scottish Court of Session, the country’s supreme civil court.

He claimed the PCC was incorrect to conclude his actions ’amounted to serious professional incompetence and unacceptable professional conduct’ and questioned the committee’s finding that the likelihood of ’repetition’ was ’significant’.

He also challenged whether the sanction of erasure was ’appropriate and proportionate’ and questioned whether the committee which heard his case should have included two members who ’had been party to a PCC decision in respect of a previous allegation [in 2014] of unacceptable professional conduct against the appellant’.

However, at the hearing on Friday 30 August, the court rejected all the grounds of the appeal.

The appeal judges - the Lordships - said they ’saw no reason to intervene with the decision of the PCC which in their view had been properly made’.

Costs in the case were awarded to the ARB. 

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