Architect failed to enter into written agreement with client

A Belfast architect has been reprimanded by the Arb after it found him guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The Arb’s professional conduct committee (PCC) heard that Don James Rush of Rush & Company failed to enter into a written agreement before undertaking to obtain planning approval for the construction of six semi-detached houses in 2014.

Planning permission was refused in 2015, prompting the client to complain that he should have known it would not succeed.

Mr Rush, who trained at Liverpool School of Architecture, attended the hearing and represented himself where he admitted the allegation and accepted that it amounted to unacceptable professional conduct under standard 4 of the Architects’ Code of Conduct.

The PCC stressed that compliance with standard 4 ensures that both architect and client understand their respective contractual obligations and forms the bedrock of the relationship between them.

The committee considered Mr Rush’s failure to comply to be serious because it gave rise to the potential for misunderstanding and confusion and to the breakdown of the client/architect relationship.

The committee ruled that his actions did not amount to serious professional incompetence.

In considering a punishment, the PCC noted Mr Rush’s unblemished 35-year career as an architect and that he had fully engaged in the regulatory process.

It also took into account that he had shown insight into his shortcomings and taken corrective action in respect of other clients.

But it considered his failure was serious enough to diminish both his reputation and that of the profession generally.

A reprimand is the mildest punishment in an armoury that includes erasing an architect from the register.