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Friday25 July 2014

Defending Arb

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Jack Pringle's comment about an RIBA-administered register (News March 19) is not new. It was mooted previously when the Architects Act was being debated. Current thinking in government and consumer circles is that professional and regulatory bodies ought to be separate to avoid conflicts of interest. Members look to their professional bodies to support them; consumers look to independent bodies to deal with their concerns.

In any event, many thousands of registrants are not members of the RIBA. Arb market research in 2001 showed that 94% of the profession want protection of title; where is the public interest in requiring them to join an RIBA-administered register?

Pringle further commented that Arb had "usurped the RIBA's position in education, shamelessly taking... its systems". This is a very partial version of the position. Arb inherited from Arcuk a joint validation system with the RIBA, which was not lawful under the current act. Both the RIBA's lawyers and Arb's lawyers agreed that, legally, Arb had to own the process if it was to be used for prescribing qualifications. The RIBA and Arb entered into an agreement in August 2000 in which the role of both parties and the legal ownership of the system by Arb was spelled out. Subsequently, RIBA asked for the system to be disbanded in 2001. To suggest that a system agreed to by the RIBA is an act of misbehaviour by Arb is extraordinary.

Ever mindful that the retention fee is drawn from hard-working professionals, Arb would be the first to admit it has not put sufficient resources into refuting the frequently unwarranted and unjustified attacks that come its way. It is now looking for more cost-effective ways to counter this criticism.

A fuller version of this letter can be found on Arb's website, www.arb.org.uk, in the News and Information section.

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