Conduct Committee proves itself to be ARB Compliant
The proceedings reported elsewhere on this website (see "Case Study" and "An Architect's eloquence") were interesting in having proved beyond reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of those who had been following the two cases, not any failings on the part of the architects, but a prolonged series of failings, great and small, on the part of the ARB itself.
The Professional Conduct Committee's rulings at the preliminary hearing on 10/11 January 2006 will have pleased those whose opinion is that it is generally expedient to let "regulation" prevail, where there is a conflict between the rule of law on the one hand and the ambitions of persons claiming to be in the business of regulating a profession on the other.
In the morning of Thursday 11 January 2006 there had been some dwindling hope that the Conduct Committee would have taken the opportunity to reinvent itself as a truly "judicial" body, to use the Chairman's word at an earlier preliminary hearing on 5th October 2005. (He is a solicitor who had been nominated by the President of the Law Society under the Architects Act 1997.)
Would the Committee, we had wondered, act with independence of mind, as it had professed? Would it have the audacity and vigour to show its independence by rebuking the ARB for harassing two innocent architects by compelling them, in honour, to defend themselves against baseless charges being prosecuted against them by the ARB's solicitor?
By Thursday afternoon the outcome was known, after the architects had claimed that the Committee should rule that the proceedings were a nullity. It then became apparent to the architects themselves, and to those who had been carefully following the proceedings from the sidelines, that the Committee, of two solicitors and one architect, had failed to pay attention to the reasoned and detailed objections which the two architects had put to the Committee at some length. Instead, the Committee, at least by a majority, had again shown a propensity simply to accept the unfounded assertions which had been made by the ARB's solicitor.
A week later (19/20 January) the cases of each of the two architects proceeded to the hearing of the charges. By now, it was only to be expected that the Committee would again pronounce against them in a way fully consistent with its self-appointed task of upholding the ARB's pretensions, and would decide to give effect to what the ARB had claimed it could "require" architects to do.
Such a decision would have been approved by anyone willing to promote the claims of ARB to have extensive powers as a regulator of the profession; but would have been deplored by anyone who believes that it is against the public interest to let such a body exceed the powers actually allowed to it by Parliament for the purpose of maintaining and publishing the Register of Architects.
And so it has turned out.