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Fitness to Practise Update Series: Dual Prosecution under the Building Control Act 2007

Sinead Keogh
08/10/2021

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Ireland

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) were recently successful in a dual prosecution under the Building Control Act 2007 (the "Act"). The SCSI has welcomed the outcome in its first prosecution and conviction as the registration body for professional surveyors. 

In the case, a Dublin man was convicted of misrepresenting himself as both a building surveyor and an architect without having satisfied the registration requirements for either profession under the Act. The man provided correspondence to two different local authorities with letterhead which read “William Doran (TechIEI) Architect, Planning and Project Management Consultant, Land and Building Surveying, Fire Safety Consultant, Registered Building Energy Assessor”.

The man pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawfully using the title "building surveyor" along with two further charges of unlawfully using the title "architect". In the Dublin District Court, Judge Marie Quirke handed down a fine of €1,500 for misrepresenting himself as a building surveyor without having completed the requirements for registration. The man was fined a further €6,000 in respect of two separate charges of unlawfully using the title "architect". The man was given 12 months to pay the fines. Judge Marie Quirke noted the seriousness of the offences and that the actions of the accused were "very serious and extremely grave." The Judge, while not imposing a custodial sentence, suggested that should the accused find himself before the Courts again for a similar offence that a custodial sentence may be appropriate.

One of the purposes of the Building Control Act 2007 is to restrict the use of the protected titles of architect, building surveyor and quantity surveyor to those who are registered under the Act and makes it an offence for those who use such titles without being registered to do so.

Commenting on the conviction, Gwen Wilson, Registrar of the SCSI noted "When employing a registered Building Surveyor or Quantity Surveyor, the public expects that they have acquired – through their education, training, and experience – the required level of skill, knowledge, and competence to practice in Ireland. A person’s home is usually their biggest financial asset and you need to have full confidence in the person you engage to work on it."
Ms Wilson also commented that before consumers employ either a building surveyor or quantity surveyor they should always check that the contractor is registered with the SCSI to ensure that the project can be certified and that the work carried out is governed by the SCSI code of conduct.

Frank Turvey, Registrar of the RIAI also expressed his hope that the conviction would deter others who deliberately hoodwink the public about their professional credentials and advanced that the public should always check the RIAI register whose members are governed by its code of conduct.

This successful dual prosecution and the very critical view taken by the Court will be of interest to other statutory regulators with similar statutory provisions who may encounter unregistered persons using protected titles.

Written by SinĂ©ad Keogh and Ciara Cornyn. 

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