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ARB sanctions two architects over fees information

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Two architects have been reprimanded by the Architects Registration Board for unacceptable professional conduct related to transparency of fees information

Neil Perry of Oxford-based Anderson Orr Architects and Peter Bell of West London’s Peter Bell & Partners both received sanctions following complaints.

Bell – who became a registered architect in 1965 – was instructed over the phone in February 2017 to carry out refurbishment works on a Victorian property in a conservation area.

A professional conduct committee held earlier this month found that documents provided by the architect to the client were ‘inadequate in a number of material aspects’.

An RIBA document from 2000 that was provided by Bell to the client was ‘significantly out of date’ and contained fee scales that were ‘no longer in use’, the committee found.

‘Suggesting to the complainant that the suggested percentage scale fees could be used as a comparison to the respondent’s quoted fee was misleading and inaccurate,’ it added.

‘The fact that the respondent is a busy sole practitioner does not mean that he is not required to produce compliant terms of engagement … reliance on an outdated document with fee scales that are no longer in use undoubtedly caused the complainant to question the respondent’s professionalism.’

In an entirely separate case, Neil Perry was appointed to carry out major renovation works to a house.

He submitted an invoice in May 2015 for work carried out under stages 1A and 1B of this project and was paid accordingly. But the professional conduct committee heard he did not provide an estimate of costs to the client for work during stages 2 or 3 before these stages got underway.

Perry then submitted a further invoice in December 2015 for £20,517.25 plus VAT, stating fees had been agreed.

He told the ARB that, while the terms of engagement did set out hourly rates for the event that a fixed fee was not agreed, the client was not provided with any estimate of the costs for stages 2 and 3 prior to these works commencing.

After admitting unacceptable professional conduct, Perry was given a reprimand by the committee.

Reprimands are publicised for two years and remain permanently on an architect’s record.  

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