Misuse of the Title Architect – The RIAI Acts!

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    • #711448

      Misuse of the Title Architect

      Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011

      The RIAI will be initiating their campaign for compliance with the provisions of the Building Control Act 2007 from week commencing Monday 21 November. This phase will involve the issue of letters to all of those included on the RIAI’s compliance database. The database includes those whose services may have been advertised under the title ‘architect’ or about whom the RIAI has received queries or complaints from third parties.

      The letters will advise recipients as to the provisions of the Building Control Act 2007, use of the title ‘architect’, and the options available to those using the title architect in contravention of the law. The options include applying for registration on the basis of recognised qualifications; seeking registration through assessment mechanisms such as Technical Assessment and desisting from use of the title architect, which can be confirmed by use of an undertaking which will go out with the letters.

      The RIAI has written a letter to the Members of the Oireachtas. The letter can be down-loaded from this link.

      For anyone wishing to find out more, and for those who may need to address their own situation but have not yet have received a letter, a Frequently Asked Questions document relating to compliance is available from this link.

      Using the title architect in combination with any other words or letters or name title or description implying that a person is registered is an offence which, on summary conviction will result in a fine to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.

      Ensuring compliance with the Act is an essential aspect of the consumer protection objective of the Act. It is through the mechanisms of ensuring that all persons and businesses using the title architect

      1. have demonstrated the required standard of knowledge, skill and competence to describe themselves as architects and
      2. are bound by the Code of Conduct under legislation providing clients with clear access to recourse if problems arise (including misconduct and poor professional performance) through judicial and non-judicial means that consumers can be properly informed and appropriately protected.

    • #817412

      These extracts are from the linked documents mentioned in the Misuse notice:-

      “Unfortunately, research carried out by the RIAI has indicated that there are over 500 practitioners who are not included on the Register but who are still offering services to the public under the title ‘architect’.”

      “Quite a number of firms that might have described themselves as engineers and architects have changed to titles such as engineers and building design professionals or building and planning design consultants.”

      This is from the Royal Institute web site:-
      “The RIAI Practice Directory lists over 622 practices.”

      What these figures show is that around 50% of architecture businesses have been marginalised by Part 3 of the BCA 2007.
      Clearly there is no more effective means of sheltering an elite than by making criminals of all competitors.

      I’ll be preparing a reply to the linked documents sent to politicians – in which I am of course misquoted.

      According to Section 67 of the BCA 2007, there are time limits on bringing prosecutions.
      It is my personal opinion that the Royal Institute remains estopped from bringing those prosecutions.
      Of course this is a matter for the legally trained or even the Courts themselves to decide upon.

      Brian Montaut
      Architect 18 Nov 2011

    • #817413

      Both architects and non-architects would be better sorting out there differences.
      And establishing Irish standards for fees, payment systems etc.

      When one try’s to stand over the other it’s going to end in tears and the only person who will win is the people paying “fees”

    • #817414

      Section 67 of the Building Control Act 2007 seems to have interesting implications for those claiming establishment for more than five years.
      I also note that its the registration body and not the Minister that appears to be empowered to take legal action.

      Of course, a court may take the view that someone deliberately using the title “architect” without even attempting to become registered is spoiling for a fight, and that they should at least use approved titles in accordance with their pre-registration status.

      Michael O’Neill
      O’Neill Quigley & Associates
      Planning and Design Consultants
      Dipl.Arch. (DIT) 1990
      B.Arch. Sc. (TCD) 1990

      I can quite legally call myself “Graduate Architect” because of my prescribed qualification under DIR 85/384/EEC and DIR 2006/36/EC
      This doesn’t support you signing certs “as an architect” but my evidence was accepted in the High Court on 2009 under the above restrictions.


      67.—(1) Summary proceedings for an offence under Part 3, 4, 5 or 6 may be brought and prosecuted by the registration body.

      (2) Notwithstanding section 10(4) of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act 1851, summary proceedings for an offence under this Act may be commenced—

      [align=:1prokzbj](a) within 12 months from the date on which the offence was committed, or
      (b) within 6 months from the date on which evidence sufficient, in the opinion of the person instituting the proceedings, to justify proceedings comes to that person’s knowledge, whichever is later, provided that no such proceedings shall be commenced later than 5 years from the date on which the offence concerned was committed.[/align:1prokzbj]

      (3) For the purposes of this section, a certificate signed by or on behalf of the person initiating the proceedings as to the date on which evidence referred to in subsection (2)(b) came to his or her knowledge shall be evidence of that date and, in any legal proceedings a document purporting to be a certificate under this section and to be so signed shall be admitted as evidence without proof of the signature of the person purporting to sign the certificate, unless the contrary is shown.

      (4) It shall be presumed, until the contrary is shown, that proceedings for an offence under this Act were commenced within the appropriate period.

    • #817415

      The problem with Section 67 for unregistered persons is that the use of the Title is not a historical event, it is an ongoing series of offences, which suggests the 12 month and 6 month limits may not apply.

      Also the body taking action has not been in power for five years yet, so arguments that the RIAI are statute-barred may be based on sand as opposed to a firm foundation.

      In fact each use of the title since 1st May 2008 by unregistered persons may be a separate offence.

      One only hopes the RIAI acts even-handedly and pursues their own Members who continued use the title from 01.05.2011 until registration commenced.

      The offence is “use of the title while unregistered”, and I suspect that whether being an MRIAI entitled you to a free pass or not is irrelevant to the law.

      Otherwise the issue of whether abuse of a dominant position occurred could be taken to a whole new level of concern and review.

    • #817416

      Caught out once again by the ridiculously restrictive time limit in which to edit posts on Archiseek.

      The above post should read –

      “In fact each use of the title since 1st May 2008 by unregistered persons may be a separate offence.

      One only hopes the RIAI acts even-handedly and pursues their own Members who continued use the title from 01.05.2008 until registration commenced.”

      The Register was opened on 16th November 2009.
      That’s 1st may 2008 to 16th November 2009.
      A period of over 18 months and two weeks.

      During this time all Members of the Institute continued to use the title architect.
      Despite the fact that there was no Register of Architects on which to enter their names.
      This suggests that all Members of the Institute used the Title Architect while unregistered.
      Unregistered architects who continue to use the Title should note all relevant facts to a court.

    • #817417

      Letters have issued from the Registrar.
      It seems the issue I raised above is indeed a “live” one.

      Up to €5,000 on conviction and up to €500 per day for every new offence.
      A time limit within which action can be taken may not apply where new offences can be taken into account.

      The issue of the “continuing offence” position seems to sidestep the “MRIAIs were operating as architects while unregistered” issue.
      However, there is a huge question as to how this law has been framed versus say the Building Control Act 1990 and offences of non compliance.

      There the local authority had five years in which to act after completion – this suggests the current act may be draconian in its interpretation of the law.
      Were such a position to be persuasively argued in court, the judge might take the view that people who had been practising for more than five years were exempt.

      Which brings us back to what the Act was trying to achieve in the first place.
      Ring fence the marketplace for Members of the institute?
      Or set genuine standards for building and design.
      Where does Priory Hall fit into this?

    • #817418

      Apparently there is a dispute as to whether “Graduate Architect” is an appropriate appellation.

      “Architectural Graduate” is apparently appropriate – you would wonder how any of this protects the public…

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