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ARB suspends architect who pocketed clients’ money

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The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has struck off a north London architect for two years after finding him guilty of failings that included not passing on clients’ money to third parties 

The board’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) served Ibiapuye Ekineh, of IBI Design Associates in Southgate, with the suspension after finding him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

Ekineh, who attended the hearing but had no legal representation, faced seven allegations all relating to a botched loft extension project at a family home.

The architect was found guilty of failing to provide detailed drawings for the project and of holding on to client fees that should have been paid to London Building Control and Thames Water.

Ekineh was also found guilty of ‘misleading’ the ARB over his insurance position, not carrying out work he had been paid for and failing to communicate with his clients.

The hearing heard that Ekineh had been appointed to design the conversion of loft space into a bedroom and bathroom in 2013.

In November the following year, it emerged there was not enough head height on the loft staircase because a contractor had installed a steel beam in the wrong place.

Ekineh’s drawings for the staircase contained no detailed measurements showing where the beam should have been and, the ARB said, nothing to confirm the contractor had acted contrary to instructions.

At the hearing, Ekineh argued that his drawings were clear and he had given explicit instruction to the on-site foreman. 

But while the committee accepted that the architects’ drawings had not shown the beam in the wrong location, it said the architect had failed in his responsibility to produce accurate measurements and to ensure it was placed correctly.

The hearing heard how Ekineh’s involvement in the project ended in August 2015. This was a month after the clients had asked for the return of money they had paid him for structural calculations that had not been done and for a water connection that also had not been completed.

It subsequently emerged, in February 2016, that Ekineh had not paid an invoice to London Building Control when it was due and instead allocated that money for payment of his additional outstanding work on the project.  

The board also said that Ekineh had ‘failed to provide any confirmation’ that he held insurance cover at the start of his appointment in 2013.

It added that he was ‘reckless’ in providing selective information about his insurance position and said it was ‘particularly serious’ that the ARB was ‘misled about the status of the insurance claim made by the complainants’.

Ekineh denied all allegations except for the first – that he failed to properly set out his terms and conditions in line with the requirements of the Architects’ Code.

The PCC found all of the allegations proved and decided that they amounted to unacceptable professional conduct. 

Commenting on its decision to suspend Ekineh from the professional register for two years, the conduct committee said this was the second time he had been found guilty of unprofessional conduct and that he had demonstrated ‘little insight’ into his failings. 

In response to the suspension, Ekineh said: ‘The decision from the ARB seems to imply that the architect’s role should include supervising the work and has not taken into consideration the background to the project and the architect/client/contractor’s relationship. 

‘It is regrettable that the client’s behaviour and its consequence on the architect’s ability to undertake his/her obligation is not taken into consideration. I believe the decision is draconian, punitive and has not taken the matters which I highlighted into consideration.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Two years suspension for someone who is evidently completely inept is as insulting as the original acts of fraud that he committed. Why did this case take years to come to a conclusion? Why has this individual not been written off for good as this is a second offence. I am not in this profession but the ARP look pathetic as a regulating organisation. I feel very sorry for the clients who must have gone through hell to get this weak outcome.

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