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Last edited 12 Nov 2021
Architects Registration Board ARB
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) was established in 1834, but architects subsequently campaigned for the protection of the title ‘architect’ and in 1931, the Architects (Registration) Act created the Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom (ARCUK).
In 1993, the Warne Report recommended that both ARCUK and protection of the title should be abolished, or failing this, that ARCUK’s functions should be transferred to the RIBA. However, under pressure from architects, in 1996, Part III of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act reconstituted ARCUK as a slimmed-down Architects Registration Board (ARB) and in 1997, the 1931 act and subsequent 1938 act were consolidated into the Architects Act of 1997 and the new regulatory body and its Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) were created.
ARB is an independent statutory regulator that regulates the architects’ profession in the UK to ensure standards are maintained. It is governed by a board of 11 members, 5 of whom are members of the public appointed by the Privy Council. Its sponsoring government department is the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Although buildings in the UK are commonly designed by people who are not architects, the term ‘architect’ itself is protected. Only qualified individuals that are registered with the ARB can offer their services as architects and companies must obtain the ARB's permission to use the title 'architect' in their name. It is a criminal offence for anyone to offer services as an architect if they are not on the register, Section 20 of the Architects Act states that 'a person shall not practise or carry on business under any name style or title containing the word 'architect' unless he is a person registered under this Act'.
The ARB code of conduct lays down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of persons registered as architects under the Act, although failure to comply with the provisions of the code is not of itself taken as constituting unacceptable professional conduct or serious personal incompetence.
- Prescribing the qualifications needed to become an architect.
- Maintaining a register of UK architects.
- Ensuring architects meet the standards for conduct and practice.
- Investigating complaints about conduct or competence (but not disputes).
- Protecting the title ‘architect’ by ensuring only people on the register offer services as an architect.
- Acting as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects.
The ARB Code of conduct states that ‘Architects should maintain their professional service and competence in areas relevant to their professional work, and discharge the requirements of any engagement with commensurate knowledge and attention. The fact that an Architect has not maintained their professional competence may count against them in the event of that competence having to be investigated.’
The ARB states that ‘if you are a member of the RIBA, and you comply with their CPD requirements (or those of another appropriate professional body) you are likely to satisfy the Board.' The RIBA requires that members undertake at least 35 hours of continuing professional development every year.
- a formal warning (a reprimand);
- a fine – currently up to a maximum of £5000 (payable to HM Treasury);
- suspension from the Register of Architects for up to two years (this means that the person would not be able to use the term ‘architect’ for business purposes during this time); or
- permanent removal from the Register (so the person wouldn’t be able to work under the title ‘architect’).
Professional Conduct Committee hearings are held in public, and its decisions are published, however, in 2015, ARB introduced a system in which Professional Conduct Committee cases could be dealt with by consent, without the need for a public hearing, where the architect admits to allegations and accepts the sanction proposed.
Architects can also become chartered members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), but this is voluntary and not necessary to practice as an architect. This is a confusing situation, and many members of the public assume that the profession is regulated by the RIBA. The RIBA does validate programmes at UK schools of architecture, but the validation criteria are jointly held by the RIBA and the ARB, and Section 4 of the Architects Act gives the ARB the statutory responsibility to prescribe the qualifications that are needed to become an architect. The RIBA maintains its own code of conduct for its members, in addition to the ARB code of conduct.
NB: The Architects Act was amended in 2011 to recognise European qualifications.
In June 2021, the government confirmed plans to allow architects with certain international qualifications to join their UK Register. In addition, it confirmed that wider proposals to drive up professional competence in the sector will be implemented via the Building Safety Bill, with the ARB given new powers to monitor the way architects manage their Continuing Professional Development (CPD). https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-responds-to-consultation-on-amendments-to-the-architects-act
On 16 August 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) opened a call for evidence to review the current form of regulation for architects and the architectural sector in the UK. The call to evidence runs for 12 weeks and will explore the regulatory framework and the role of the ARB.https://www.gov.uk/government/news/architects-invited-to-shape-future-of-profession
- ARB code of conduct.
- Architect's fees.
- Architectural design.
- Architectural education.
- Architectural styles.
- CIAT responds to the architects' regulation review.
- Concept architectural design.
- Professional indemnity insurance.
- Professional Qualifications Bill.
- Review of regulation of architects: call for evidence.
- The Architects Act.
- The history of the architectural profession.
- What is a Chartered Practice?
 External references
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