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Fake architect fined following ARB probe

ARB graphic logo2

A Humberside businessman who claimed online to be an architect despite not being registered has been fined

Christian Lawson, who, according to Companies House, owns at least 75 per cent of shares in CK Architectural, based on Hessle Road in Hull – was convicted of eight counts of misusing the term ‘architect’ on 7 September.

Kingston upon Hull & Holderness Magistrates’ Court slapped a £500 fine on Lawson and a further £500 penalty on CK Architectural, with the two parties sharing an additional £2,226 bill in costs and surcharges.

The conviction follows a 10-month investigation by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). It is understood that misuse of the word ‘architect’ occured on Lawson’s business websites, including in various URLs.

A LinkedIn page for Lawson describes him as managing director of CK Architectural, and says that he ‘started life designing aircraft-refuelling vehicles’ before he ’moved across into building design/architecture’.

CK Architectural Hull says on its website that it is ‘a committed, approachable and affordable architectural design company that provides architectural services’.

An ARB spokesperson said: ’Lawson chose to ignore the legal restrictions surrounding the use of the title, and the courts demonstrated a willingness to protect the public from those illegally calling themselves an architect. We will continue to monitor Lawson’s trading style and, if necessary, recommence legal action.’

Lawson and CK Architectural have been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile the ARB has this week formally decided to increase the retention fee by £4 to £111, in part to increase funds for tackling fake architects.

The body has warned of an estimated 7,500 individuals falsely claiming they are architects. Earlier this week it revealed proposals to employ a full-time member of staff to ‘promote the register’ along with creating an administrative post to deal with any uplift in the resulting case load.

Under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997, only those on the ARB register are legally permitted to use the protected title ‘architect’ in the course of business or practice. 


Readers' comments (7)

  • I am chartered through CIAT. We were approached from arb as our website was on a search site under the banner of 'architect'. This was not through ourselves. I asked Arb if there was a process to which we could use the term through an interview and portfolio process, there is not. Whilst I appreciate the need to protect the term, i believe its time for ARB to catch up with the real world, the path to 'architect' is archaic, the club is arrogant, and my fear is that it will be left behind. I also explained that we have plenty of clients who have used 'architects' and the level of professionalism was so bad we had to pick up the project. 'That's not my area of concern' was the response.

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  • So , protection of title is worth only £1000.00-
    or 9 years of arb subscriptions?

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  • Sledgehammer cracks nut . . . after 10 months. Sad.

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  • My understanding has always been that using the term 'architectural' as an adjective or 'architecture' as a noun are not an offences and only applying the term 'Architect' as a descriptive noun requires qualification and registration.

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  • As a Chartered Builder & Construction Manager, I, like many "Qualified Architectural Technicians" and others who may be CAD Operatoras or similar, include "Architectural Services" as one of the many Built Environment " Services that I offer.

    There are also many "Building Trade" Websites that include "Architectural Services" as one of there "Trades".

    In no way do any of these purport that this is a claim to be an "Architect" and should not be construed as such by ARB or anyone else.

    I agree that the Professional term of "Achitect" should be protected. It is a disgrace that the job descriptions of "Engineer" or Surveyor" are not similarly protected in UK the way they are in many other countries by Licencing or similar means.

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  • John Kellett

    To all CIAT members. How does your qualification lead to that as an architect? IT DOESN'T, you would need to start from the start. it is the term 'Architectural Services' that is a loophole in the law. RIBA Part 1 students are more qualified than CIAT members in the role of architect, FACT, and they have at least three more years of study and training to go before becoming architects. After my Part 1 I could design buildings (in fact my pet cat can legally design buildings) but I was not an architect.

    Being an Engineer, Surveyor or Technologist requires NO qualifications. THAT is where the law is wrong, in allowing unqualified people to practice in any business. In my experience the general public already believe it is a requirement in law to be qualified to design buildings, so not a big leap. The number of people who accuse my profession of being to blame for failings (tower blocks, John Poulson, Grenfell etc etc) when it was non-architects who were guilty is frightening.

    As a Chartered Technologist you are qualified as such, nothing more. Which, until the name change, only needed an HND/HNC level of education to be an 'architectural' technologist, the course contents haven't changed as far as I can tell from the syllabuses. If being CIAT qualified you as an architect you would be able to register as one by taking the ARB/RIBA exams, so why don't you try?

    To consider offering 'architectural' services as equal to that of being an architect is arrogant beyond belief.

    For the offence of breaking the law the ARB (and Government) need to get the fine increased and upgraded to a mandatory prison sentence for fraud. I would have thought the Government would have learnt it's lesson when unqualified 'financial advisors' caused the crash a decade ago causing them to make it illegal for them to practice. Was Grenfell not enough?

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  • James Witney. I don't know about archaic, but here's an interesting article in respect of the Architect's Registration Board (ARB) unlawfully restricting access (Barrister's Opinion) to the Architects' Register (since 1997). Link attached:


    Despite some ignorant views from others, it would appear, there are many competent professionals, in the UK, who are being unlawfully restricted to the register & use of title 'Architect'.

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