Architect erased from register for lyingThe ARB's Professional Conduct Committee has found London architect Mr Stephen Harty guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and removed him from the Register of Architects.

Mr Harty practised under the name POD Architects and had been engaged by a client to provide design services in connection with a proposed development in Montenegro. A dispute arose between the parties in connection with the works undertaken and the amount charged. Mr Harty was alleged to have made a claim for costs from his client that he knew, or ought to have known could not be justified; and that he had made representations in the ensuing arbitration proceedings which were inaccurate, misleading and untrue. Both allegations were denied.

The Committee found Mr Harty’s claim for costs from his client was unjustified. While the contract between the parties was for a fixed sum, it represented a fixed payment for specified works, which on his own admission, Mr Harty had not carried out in full. Regarding the second allegation, the Committee found that Mr Harty made representations in his witness statements for the arbitration proceedings that were untrue. Having studied the witness statements and having heard from Mr Harty at the hearing, the Committee found numerous inaccuracies in his evidence.

The Committee went on to consider whether Mr Harty’s actions amounted to dishonesty. The Committee decided that Mr Harty’s actions in changing and retracting previously given evidence when challenged indicated that his actions were both objectively and subjectively dishonest.

The Committee found Mr Harty’s conduct to have fallen substantially below the standards expected of a registered architect and in breach of Standards 1.1 and 1.2 of the Architects Code which relate to integrity, and that because of this, he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

The Committee had regard to testimonials of Mr Harty’s good character, integrity and professionalism; and noted the administrative steps he had subsequently taken to prevent similar future issues.

Nevertheless, the matters found proved were so serious that only erasure from the Register of Architects would protect the public and reputation of the profession. Making untrue and misleading statements in the course of litigation, and doing so dishonestly, was, the Committee found, behaviour fundamentally incompatible with professional obligations.

A copy of the Committee’s decision can be found here.