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ARB raps architect over patchy client appointment letter

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An Essex architect has been warned by the ARB for failing to properly outline his terms of engagement in appointment letters sent to a client 

Jeremy Denn is a RIBA member who trained at Brighton Polytechnic and once worked on presidential palaces in Malawi for his father’s practice, Montgomerie Oldfield and Denn, according to his website.

Denn now specialises in residential work in the Saffron Walden area, where his practice, Denn Architects, is based.

But a customer referred Denn to the ARB after employing the firm to work on a kitchen extension in 2014 and to deliver a planning application for a new-build dwelling in 2017.

The client complained that Denn, 60, had failed to provide adequate terms of engagement for either project, a claim the architect later admitted.

The architect confessed that his letter of appointment was not fully compliant with Standard 4.4 and 4.6 of the Architects Code of Conduct.

While the letter proposed a fixed fee and scope of work, it did not properly address:

  • Who the contracting party was
  • Who would be responsible for what
  • Any constraints or limits on responsibilities of the party
  • The provisions for suspending or terminating the agreement
  • The details of adequate insurance, as specified by the ARB
  • Details for resolving disputes

Denn waived his right to a public hearing and admitted the failings amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. 

The ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee said Denn’s actions were a ‘serious breach’ of the Architects Code but took his previous good record into account when deciding the sanction.

The committee issued him with a reprimand.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • John Kellett

    Whilst the standard RIBA Appointment Contract is ‘way over the top’ for clients wanting extensions around here where the budget is well under £100,000 The semi-official ‘letter contract’ is far more suitable. But needs an official update to keep up with legislation.
    Faced with the full RIBA Domestic Appointment Contract they will nearly always opt for the under qualified plan-drawer and suffer the consequences :-)

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