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Successful RIAI Prosecution

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Ireland

On 11 March 2022, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) was successful in bringing a prosecution against a company for the misuse of a protected title under section 18 of the Building Control Act 2007 ("the Act"). This is the fourth successful prosecution by the RIAI under this section.
 
It is an offence under section 18 of the Act to carry out business under a name, style or title containing the word “architect”, when the business is not under the control or management of a registered architect. If found guilty of an offence contrary to section 18 of the Act, the penalty on summary conviction, is a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.
 
This most recent prosecution was taken against the company Turnkey Planning and Architectural Services.
 
Upon inspection of the register, the RIAI found that the company was neither under the control and management of a registered architect nor under the supervision of a registered architect, as required under the Act.
 
The RIAI informed the company Turnkey Planning and Architectural Services of the alleged breach of the Act and provided an opportunity for the company to comply with s.18 of the Act. When no such changes were forthcoming by the Company, summary proceedings issued against the company in accordance with sections 18 and 67 of the Act.
 
The Defendant company entered a guilty plea and the Court was informed that the company's name had been changed to I Design Planning Consultants Limited. The Defendant told the Court that it understood the gravity of the breach and acknowledged to the Court that it should have accepted this sooner. The Defendant acknowledged that the RIAI had given it every opportunity to make the required changes and stated that it had not been the intention of the Defendant to mislead or defraud the public.
 
The Court acknowledged that the matter was serious and that Architects work hard for several years to earn the title of Architect. The Court fined the Company €1,500 with 4 months to pay and the Order was made in the Company's new name, I Design Planning Consultants Limited.
 
Speaking after the judgment the RIAI Registrar, Mr Frank Turvey, stated:
 
“The 2007 Building Control Act protects the use of the word ‘architect’ or cognate uses of the word such as architecture and architectural in business names by restricting their use to businesses under the control and management of a registered architect. This is to protect the public from dishonest individuals who deliberately mislead people by implying that they are something which they are not.
 
Through their education, training, and experience a Registered Architect has demonstrated the competence required to practice as an Architect in Ireland. Before engaging an architecture practice, consumers should check that the person who has control and management of the practice is registered with the RIAI. Otherwise, they risk engaging a practice that does not employ any architects and does not have the competencies required to complete or certify the project and its employees are not governed by the RIAI code of conduct.
 
We in the RIAI welcome the decision of the Court in this case. We hope others see this as a deterrent to using words such as, ‘architect’, ‘architectural’ or ‘architecture’ in relation to their business to deliberately mislead members of the public as to their training and professional credentials.
 
The RIAI gives every opportunity for those who are found to be misusing the word to comply with the legislation; prosecution is used as a last resort against those who persist in misusing the word ‘architect’, ‘architecture’ or architectural’ in their business name, despite fair warning, as was the case in this instance.”
 
This successful prosecution will be of interest to other statutory regulators with similar statutory provisions who may encounter unregistered persons using protected titles.

Written by: Sinead Keogh, Eimear Burke and Paul Bruun-Nielsen

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